Stem Cell Tourism
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When James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin announced in 1998 that he had derived and cultured human embryonic stem cells(hESCs), Americans widely believed-and accepted-that stem cells would one day be the basis of a multitude of regenerative medical techniques. Researchers promised that they would soon be able to cure a variety of diseases and injuries such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, and many others. But it wasn't until January 2009 that the Food and Drug Administration approved the first human clinical trials using hESCs. The trials were put on hold in August of 2009 before they were ever begun. After more than a decade of being promised curative stem cell therapy, many people have been unwilling to wait for American doctors to provide stem cell treatments. Some people have opted not to wait or rely on other treatments, and have chosen to receive stem cell therapy from international institutions. This phenomenon has been dubbed stem cell tourism, and it has garnered much media attention, both in support and in opposition.