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6 Myths About Stem Cell Therapy Debunked

6 Myths About Stem Cell Therapy Debunked

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can become multiple types of cells and reproduce continuously. There are two major types of stem cells: mesenchymal and embryonic. Mesenchymal stem cells have been shown potential to be useful in therapeutic procedures to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, cancer, and osteoarthritis. As stem cell therapy has become more popular and reliable, many myths and pieces of misinformation have arisen surrounding it. In this article, we debunk and refute six common myths about stem cell therapy. 

Myth 1: All Stem Cells are Sourced Unethically 

Much of the ethical debate surrounding stem cells and stem cell therapy is concerned with the administration of embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are ethically debatable because harvesting and sourcing them requires the destruction of human embryos. Discussion around the ethics of embryonic stem cells is closely tied to ethical discussions about abortion and the value of human life. Some opponents of embryonic stem cell harvesting argue that the embryos used in therapy should not be destroyed because they are already human beings. 

Most stem cell therapy, however, uses mesenchymal stem cells, which do not involve human embryos at all. Mesenchymal stem cells are sourced from various places in the body, including bone marrow, muscle, and the umbilical cord, and are not ethically contentious. 

Myth 2: All Stem Cell Therapy is Dangerous

As with any medical procedure or therapy, there are proper safety guidelines associated with stem cell therapy. There are very few long-term side effects associated with the administration of mesenchymal stem cell therapy. A common conception of stem cell therapy is that it can cause tumors, however, multiple studies have found no relationship between mesenchymal stem cell therapy and tumor formation. There are, however, certain risks associated with embryonic stem cell therapy, including the formation of tumors. Embryonic stem cells can also be rejected by the body’s current cells which can lead to cancer in some cases. 

Myth 3: Stem Cell Therapy is Illegal

Stem cell therapy and research is legal in the United States. Some restrictions, however, do exist. Laws and regulations on stem cell therapy vary widely depending on the state and region. Some states, such as California, Connecticut, and Illinois allow and encourage embryonic stem cell research and therapy, while others such as South Dakota forbid research on embryos. 

There have been restrictions placed on funding and use of stem cell therapy including a 2001 executive order signed by United States President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem cell research. There are also unlicensed stem cell clinics that illegally sell therapies to customers. However, many clinics that administer mesenchymal stem cell therapy do so in legal, ethical, and safe manners.

Myth 4: Stem Cell Therapy Can Cure All Diseases

One of the most common misunderstandings of stem cell therapy is that it has the ability to completely cure all forms of disease. Studies and trials have shown mesenchymal stem cell therapy to be potentially effective in providing relief for many conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, and kidney disease. Still, stem cell therapy has not been proven to treat all conditions and diseases. Researchers hope that one day stem cell therapy will become a useful, all-purpose form of treatment, but that has yet to happen. At the moment, researchers believe stem cell therapy can be useful in providing relief for many diseases including the following: 

  • Alzheimer's 
  • ALS
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Failure
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Lupus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal Cord Injury 
  • Stroke

Myth 5: Stem Cells are Only Found in Embryos

Although embryonic stem cells often receive significant media attention because of the ethical debates surrounding them, they are actually not the only type of stem cell. Mesenchymal stem cells are adult, multipotent stem cells that can be used to treat numerous diseases. Mesenchymal stem cells have been found in the brain, bone marrow, skin, teeth, blood vessels, heart, liver, and gut. Not only are MSCs much safer than ESCs but they are also more useful because they can differentiate into more cell types, allowing them to be used in treatment for a wider variety of conditions. Scientists have discovered many tissues and organs in the body from which mesenchymal stem cells can be sourced.

Myth 6: Stem Cell Therapy and Research will Lead to Human Cloning

Stem cell therapy and cloning procedures do utilize similar parts of the body, including pre-implantation embryos known as blastocysts, but the specifics of the two practices are very different. The cloning of Dolly the sheep, for example, involved taking a somatic cell and transferring its DNA to an egg cell. On the other hand, stem cell therapy involves administering undifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells to become nerve, tissue, and organ cells.

Cloning is also a much more difficult and ethically debatable procedure than stem cell therapy. Scientists have successfully cloned many animals such as cattle, swine, rats, rabbits, and cats, but have yet to seriously consider human cloning. In addition, there is currently no scientific evidence that cloning human embryos is possible, nor do many scientists and researchers believe it is an ethically sound idea.


Stem cell therapy involves the administration of stem cells to heal or treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and stroke. Common misconceptions of stem cell therapy include the idea that it is dangerous, always involves the destruction of human embryos, will lead to human cloning, and can cure all diseases.

For more information on mesenchymal stem cell therapy be sure to visit our website.