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Argument: Price tag may limit potential scope of stem cell treatment

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  • Stem cell treatment is likely to be expensive. From Chapter 7 of Christopher Thomas Scott's "Stem Cell Now" (2006) - "Customized treatments that can't rely on economies of scale are likely to be very expensive. For an adult stem cell regimen, the tissue in which the stem cells reside must be biopsied -- perhaps more than once -- surgeries that can put elderly patients at risk. For any cell therapy the methods for isolating, growing, and expanding the cultures must be perfected -- complications not yet perfected for adult stem cells. The procedures must produce millions upon millions of homogeneous, long-lived cells that exhibit stemness. Like any transplant, the cells must be free of contamination with unwanted viral, bacterial, or chemical agents. To avoid "homegrown" protocols and to ensure quality, companies and hospitals will need to standardize laboratory, manufacturing, and clinical practices. Health professionals will need training to provide proper informed consent and oversight of the procedures. Some researchers assert that for each patient, between 10 and 20 technicians will need to work full-time in specialized laboratories. The costs for such individualized treatments, they say, would be astronomical."

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