Untested, unproven, and unethical: the promotion and provision of autologous stem cell therapies in Australia

Stem Cell Res Ther. 2015 Feb 9;6(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s13287-015-0047-8.


An increasing number of private clinics in Australia are marketing and providing autologous stem cell therapies to patients. Although advocates point to the importance of medical innovation and the primacy of patient choice, these arguments are unconvincing. First, it is a stark truth that these clinics are flourishing while the efficacy and safety of autologous stem cell therapies, outside of established indications for hematopioetic stem cell transplantation, are yet to be shown. Second, few of these therapies are offered within clinical trials. Third, patients with chronic and debilitating illnesses, who are often the ones who take up these therapies, incur significant financial burdens in the expectation of benefiting from these treatments. Finally, the provision of these stem cell therapies does not follow the established pathways for legitimate medical advancement. We argue that greater regulatory oversight and professional action are necessary to protect vulnerable patients and that at this time the provision of unproven stem cell therapies outside of clinical trials is unethical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Autografts
  • Cell- and Tissue-Based Therapy
  • Humans
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / economics
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / ethics
  • Stem Cell Transplantation* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Treatment Outcome