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There's a growing trend of uninformed patients crowdfunding to pay for phony stem cell treatments, a new study finds.
Researchers looked at patients who crowdfunded for treatment at for-profit clinics that use direct-to-consumer marketing of expensive unproven stem cell treatments, the Associated Press reported.
Over four months last year, the researchers identified 408 funding requests for stem cell treatment that received pledges of nearly $1.5 million from 13,050 donors. The requests were posted on GoFundMe and YouCaring, the AP reported.
The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers did not examine how many of the patients eventually underwent stem cell treatment or the outcomes of those who did, but there have been deaths and permanent injury from unproven stem cell treatments, the AP reported.
The study highlights an issue that has not received much attention, according to lead author Jeremy Snyder, a bioethicist at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
He told the AP that he was "surprised by the scope of it," and added that the patients are not to blame.
"They want to believe a lot of the times that this is going to really cure me. It's absolutely a heartbreaking situation," Snyder said.
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