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Stem Cell Clinics Selling Risky Treatments Explode Across the U.S.

Study finds 570 outposts marketing cures for spinal cord injuries, cardiac problems, and more. The FDA is trying to catch up.
Photographer: Mauricio Lima/AFP via Getty Images

Unproven stem cell therapies have been scorned as “medicine’s Wild West.” Patients have died while undergoing treatment. Yet others have called them “miraculous.” Hundreds of NFL players have sought them out.

A study published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell finds that there are 570 clinics operated by 351 companies selling stem-cell procedures directly to consumers in the U.S., raising concerns that unapproved treatments could cost patients thousands of dollars and threaten their health.