Presidential candidate Rick Perry underwent a controversial stem-cell treatment this past month, prompting some doctors to fear the high-profile event would send the wrong signal to desperate patients.
The Republican contender, who has access to the best medicine, chose to get stem cells removed from his fat from his back and then reinserted in attempts to fix a bad back.
The experimental procedure apparently happened on July 1, and Perry has been recovering rapidly ever since, his representatives say.
But the treatment carries potential risks ranging from blood clots to infection to cancer and may even run afoul of federal rules, doctors say. Worse, some doctors suggest, is it would inspire desperate patients to try to unvetted procedures as well.
As a highly influential person of power, Perry's actions have the unfortunate potential to push desperate patients into the clinics of quacks who are selling unproven treatments for everything from Alzheimer's to autism, Dr. George Q. Daley, of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute told the Associated Press.
Daley, who is the previous president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, added: I would never in a million years accept for one of my family members to undergo this.
In the procedure, doctors removed some of Perry's fat cells, cultured them in a lab and then injected them back into his spine and bloodstream.
Some think stem cells isolated from fat could someday be used to generate soft tissue and bone and perhaps even help in the treatment of ailments such as heart disease.
Such treatments have not been thoroughly vetted by researchers or approved by the FDA.