The Chinese Stem Cell Blog

This is actually quite amazing. (Requires clicking through an ad.) People from the US and around the world are going to China to take advantage of the country’s relatively liberalized and simplified procedure for receiving stem cell treatment for an array of afflictions. And they aren’t just going to China for the treatment, they are blogging about it, often in a very touching manner.

So far, China hasn’t actually invested that much money in stem cell research, although plans are said to be under way for a significant expansion. China’s advantage over the West lies in its relative absence of bureaucratic hoops to jump through, and, possibly, though this is disputed, a vastly different cultural conception of abortion and the meaning of an embryo. It’s not inconceivable that the combination of these two factors could, in the future, result in China becoming a world leader in stem cell therapies that have been proven effective.

In the meantime, the bloggers will share their stories and encourage each other on. It is impossible not to root for them. Even now, a Silicon Valley resident named Richard, who suffers from ataxia, is on his way to Shenzhen, hopeful that Nanshan’s stem cell treatments will result in some minor improvements in his ability to walk and maintain balance. On March 15, he blogged about his farewell dinner.

Lily is reminded of the tale of a songbird that came down with a sore throat one day. His concerned friends dropped by the bird’s nest all throughout the day, offering their sympathy and homemade remedies. That night, the bird took every pill, drank every tonic, applied every ointment and wore every talisman given to him by his friends and the next morning, he was well again. Was it all the firepower of the medications that cured the bird? We’d like to think that the healing magic came instead from all the love that was imbued in the medicines. Thank you everyone, we couldn’t have done it without you!

Really very moving. You see, not all stories about China are negative. Far from it.

UPDATE: Please see this post for a different perspective.

The Discussion: 13 Comments

China may one day be a force to be reckoned with in stem cell therapy, but at the moment all they offer is slick marketing and false hope. The treatments they provide are rubbish, and the claims they make are no different to those made for the super crop harvests in places like Dazhai during the Cultural Revolution. As we have already seen in Korea, there are some seriously dodgy ‘experts’ out there, willingly to have us believe that their novel treatments are revolutionary. It’s sad that they exploit people who feel they have “nothing to lose” (except their house and life savings).

March 19, 2007 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

Ah, ZJ, you expressed my reservations first. I was just going to say “I hope it doesn’t turn out to be as fake and shady as the breast-enlargement creams and potency enhancers.” Looks like it’s maybe 10% real and 90% handwaving.

Well, let’s hope there’s been at least a beginning in decent stem cell research. They DO have fewer hurdles to jump than in the US, just not as much technology and scientific rigor.

March 19, 2007 @ 11:51 pm | Comment

Actually, I heard about Chinese using stem cells a couple of months ago and I was offended.

First, let me say that I’m Type I diabetic so I’m someone who greatly supports stem cell research. A colleague of mine told me that a man he had ran into had told him that the Chinese were offering stem cell treatment to diabetics for me for something like $25,000 – $45,000 a treatment. They take some stem cells and inject them next to the organ that’s damaged. That’s it. This sounds more like witchcraft to me than real research.

March 20, 2007 @ 11:21 am | Comment

Richard,

Where are all the pro-CCP guys who are always claming that you’re anti-China? Shouldn’t they be in here gushing about how wise and compassionate the party is and praising you for your open-mindedness?

I’ll give them another day to chime in. After that, I’m calling them hacks.

March 20, 2007 @ 2:48 pm | Comment

This makes me very sad as I’m sure that most of these sick people are being prayed on.

I know a foreign guy who’s selling stem cell treatments on behalf of Chinese hospitals. He’s a completely unethical person who I wouldn’t trust to cook me an egg, let along save my life.

March 20, 2007 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

What a shame. I read an article about something China is doing that sounds good for humanity, and then everyone tells me it’s a sham and a rip-off. I hear everyone, and I’m reserving judgment for now only because aside from the blogs I referenced, I have no familiarity with the stem cell situation in China (while I know lots about it in Taiwan).

March 20, 2007 @ 3:58 pm | Comment

Well, it has been known for long time that embryonic stem cells work short term miracle in these diseases but the long term effects are unknown due to the lack of researches. “Embryonic” is where the controversies started. The source of embryonic stem comes mostly from aborted fetus and that touches a serious nerve in the US politics. But so far, the only limitation is really the use of federal grants in the researches of embryonic stem cell.

It shouldn’t be surprising that so many countries are banking on embryonic stem cells because it’s a very promising field and the leader (US) is tied down by domestic politics. Russia is also active in the field with even cosmetic/logivity clinic with stem cell. Bigger boos and natural feeling! ๐Ÿ˜‰

March 20, 2007 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

Hey I am that American guy.

So you think all of these patients are made up and we are writing all of these blogs?

Or you think the 250 patients from various countries that have come through in the last year are just making things up?

Stop in and visit before you make any judgements. Or at the very least e-mail some of the people, those who have come back three times for treatment. You can make a judgement if you have not seen things with your own eyes.

Any and all of you are welcome.

– Jon

March 20, 2007 @ 8:23 pm | Comment

Jon, thanks for joining us. As I said, I was keeping an open mind on this until I know more. I read through a lot of those blogs, and I can’t chalk everything up to the placebo effect or wishful thinking.

March 20, 2007 @ 11:23 pm | Comment

All I know is that my Chinese made toaster is on the blink after one day. I don’t think I’ll be buying another. Doesn’t Bumrungrad do stem cell?

March 21, 2007 @ 3:41 am | Comment

“All I know is that my Chinese made toaster is on the blink after one day. I don’t think I’ll be buying another.”

So one failed toaster justified your opinion about stem cell. That is convincing.

March 22, 2007 @ 7:36 am | Comment

@Jon

Has your group released any medical papers on your research in a peer reviewed journal. You can understand my skepticism until you do that especially when you’re in China.

March 22, 2007 @ 9:39 am | Comment

“All I know is that my Chinese made toaster is on the blink after one day.”

Try not to be an idiot and buy from better brands.

March 27, 2007 @ 1:07 am | Comment

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