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@NEJM Ask the Authors & Experts: On the Road (to a Cure?): Stem Cell Tourism and Lessons for Gene Editing"


On the Road (to a Cure?) — Stem-Cell Tourism and Lessons for Gene Editing

R. Alta Charo, J.D..
N Engl J Med 2016; 374: | February 10, 2016 | DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1600891

In 2011, football quarterback Peyton Manning went on the road to seek out stem-cell “treatment” for his neck. He wasn’t alone: many high-profile athletes and desperate (but less famous) patients left the United States seeking interventions available in countries with less rigorous regulation. They didn’t necessarily know what kind of cells they were getting, whether there was any evidence the intervention worked, or whether anyone understood the risks they were taking. So why did they do it? 

Given the stream of stories about amazing potential and early breakthroughs in laboratory and animal models, gene editing may trigger the next wave of medical tourism. We should take steps now to guard against future gene-editing tourism by developing professional norms, fostering collaboration among national regulatory bodies, partnering with patient advocacy groups to develop accurate, credible information sources, and looking for opportunities to devise responsible research protocols and patient monitoring measures.

 Originally Appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine on February 10, 2016.

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