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For sale: Stem cell enhancers

Dietary supplement claims to boost circulating stem cells, but is it safe?

kerry grens
Kerry Grens

Kerry served as The Scientist’s news director until 2021. Before joining The Scientist in 2013, she was a stringer for Reuters Health, the senior health and science reporter at...

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A California company is marketing the latest in dietary supplements, an extract from algae they claim will boost the number of circulating stem cells, easing disease and discomfort. Consumers have already spent millions on the "stem cell enhancer," but some stem cell researchers remain unconvinced the product even works -- and warn that the "enhancer" may trigger other problems, including cancer."I would look at this with great, great, great skepticism," said William Frishman at the New York Medical College in Valhalla. "I strongly advise anybody not to take this drug" until more studies are done, said Thomas Eschenhagen, a professor at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. Eschenhagen told The Scientist the effect of the product does not appear drastic, based on information from the company. But whether it's safe, "we simply don't know."According to STEMTech HealthSciences, the product, StemEnhance, made from the blue-green algae Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, promises...

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