Stories about stem cells and their use in treating disease appear more and more frequently in the media, whether on TV, in newspapers or online. This rise in the number of stories reflects the rapid advances in the field. The stories are also overwhelmingly positive, reflecting the growing public interest in what is often seen as a miracle cure, and often use headline grabbing words such as ‘breakthrough’, ‘revolutionary’, ‘hope’ and ‘cure’. While many of the media stories are accurate and reflect the fantastic work being done, many times the headlines exaggerate the real story.
The reality is that very few of the stem cell therapies being developed have currently made it to clinic, or even to the stage of clinical trials on humans [link to stem cell tourism page, section on clinical trial]. So the stories that appear may be based on in vivo (pre-clinical animal) or even in vitro (laboratory based) studies, which demonstrate promise, rather than prove a treatment works in humans.