Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

Tag Archives: age-related macular degeneration

Fake “Stem Cell” Injections Blind Three Women

Stem Cell

The human body contains a few hundred different cell types, from muscle and fat cells to liver and brain cells. These are called differentiated cells and their different shapes, sizes and function is influenced by the fact that these different cell types have different gene expression. Some genes (called housekeeping genes) are expressed in all cells, while some other genes are more highly expressed in some cell types than others. It is not all about genes, however, since cells are also influenced by other cells close to them and other external factors.

Before these cells became differentiated, they were stem cells. These cells are undifferentiated cells that can grow rapidly and become any of a large number of different cell types. There are different kinds of stem cells, typically divided into different classes based on their potential for differentiation. For instance, some stem cells can become a moderate number of different cell types (multipotent), whereas others can become any of a large array of cell types (pluripotent) or even any cell type in the body (totipotent). Other types of stem cells include adult stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Read more about cell differentiation here and more about stem cells here.

Because stem cells can differentiate into different cell types, the general idea is that they might be used to replace things that do not work in the human body, from cell populations to tissues and even organs. The most common legitimate stem cell therapy in medicine involves using bone marrow stem cells (and chemotherapy) to treat leukemia and lymphoma. A small number of other legitimate therapeutic stem cell therapies have been shown to be effective in medical research and approved by regulators.

Yet, there are also fake stem cell treatments that are pushed by quacks that scam people for money and even causes serious harm.

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