Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Extra, Extra! CIRM Staffers Blog the World Stem Cell Summit

Years ago, I worked with an editor who used to advise his lagging scribes to put their noses in their typewriters and peck.

Well, the folks at the California stem cell agency have their noses in what passes today for typewriters and are pecking away furiously. Their subject is the World Stem Cell Summit, which has received only slight coverage in the mainstream media.

Today, the stem “cellists” from San Francisco's King Street filed -- on the agency's blog -- three fulsome items on doings at the summit, which is taking place in West Palm Beach, Fla. Yesterday they filed four. Photos and charts were included. More coverage is expected tomorrow.

CIRM staffers blogging the World Stem Cell Summit
covered UC Davis researcher Paul Knoepfler discussing
patient advocacy and its role in funding stem cell research. 
The CIRM writers are doing double-duty in at least one case. Geoff Lomax, the agency's senior officer for its standards group, is additionally speaking on a panel at the session. A handful of other CIRM officials are also appearing at the conference, which ends tomorrow.

The primary purpose, we presume, of sending state employees across the country is to gather the latest information on stem cell science and issues and to make contacts. It is a bit of a bonus for the public to have the CIRM attendees also file stories on the sessions.

A couple of the items caught my attention. One dealt with patient advocates and their role in energizing and helping to drive funding for research. Another item discussed what appear to be growing issues with dubious stem cell treatments and the damage they can do to the field in general.

Lomax summarized the signs of a stem cell scam like this:
  • “Claims of miracle cures for diseases
  • “Single treatments or cells that can treat any type of disease
  • “Lack of objective information, evidence (such as published medical reports) that a treatment is effective
  • “Treatment by a doctor who is not trained or certified to treat the specific disease
  • “No system exists to collect information and follow up with patients”
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