First Case of Alleged Stem-Cell Fraud Enters US Courts
Six people in the U.S. are suing biotech company RNL Bio for alleged fraud over controversial stem-cell treatments
The days of "stem-cell tourism" could be numbered. Six residents of Los Angeles are suing South Korean company RNL Bio and associates in a California court for alleged fraud. They claim the company convinced them to travel to clinics in South Korea, China or Mexico to donate fat tissue and have stem cells from it re-administered to cure diseases and even reverse aging.
Stem cells hold great medical promise, but only one treatment is licensed in the U.S. and that is for a rare blood disorder. Others are experimental and it is illegal to offer them commercially. Yet some companies tout stem-cell "cures" that are carried out outside the U.S. RNL Bio calls its fat-tissue stem cells "safe technologies" for treating various disorders.
There have been protests against these treatments for years, but this is the first civil lawsuit for damages, says Paul Knoepfler of the University of California-Davis. It "serves notice to the purveyors of unproven stem-cell treatments" that they may face litigation if they market in the U.S., says Bernard Siegel of the Genetics Policy Institute, a stem-cell watchdog in Palm Beach, Fla.