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Opinion: Stem cell clinics for heart failure: buyer be wary

Patients are turning to so-called stem cell clinics that offer treatments that will supposedly reverse heart failure. They can't be sure what they are getting.
Embryonic stem cells as seen through a microscope. Source: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images

We are witnessing great promise in medicine today. The vocabulary dazzles: “precision medicine,” “stem cells,” “moon shot,” and other terms that hint at exciting new possibilities. But it is also a time of great vulnerability for patients.

I’m particularly worried about stem cells or, more precisely, stem cell therapies. In theory, stem cells could help treat — or even cure — conditions ranging from cancer to heart failure. As a cardiologist, I’m especially interested in their application to the latter condition. Even though the hype far exceeds the evidence, patients are already turning to so-called stem cell clinics that claim to reverse heart failure.

So-called “pluripotential” stem cells have the ability to develop

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