Tuesday, August 04, 2015

California Stem Cell Firm Fighting Anti-abortion Onslaught

Protest this week at StemExpress headquarters -- Channel 10 image
Highlights: 
Controversy threatens to embroil stem cell research 
Trump jumps in 
Strangulation threat
Loss of business
A small stem cell/tissue firm in California’s Gold Rush country is battling hard as it fears “irreparable damage” from a wave of vitriol and harmful publicity about its business.

The firm is StemExpress, LLC, of Placerville, which has become entangled in a national, abortion ruckus that could escalate and spill over more broadly into stem cell research across the country.  

David Daleiden
CMP photo
In fact, the key anti-abortion player behind the controversy, David Daleiden, said he received the inspiration for his campaign when he attended a stem cell conference some years ago.

The latest flap started three weeks ago and shows no signs of abating. Daleiden and his backers have targeted Planned Parenthood, which Daleiden says is “trafficking (in) and selling baby parts for profit.” StemExpress, which supplies stem cells and human tissue to researchers, surfaced in the secretly made videos as a client of Planned Parenthood.

The controversy has entered the 2016 presidential race, triggered Congressional investigations, generated a major story out of the U.S. Senate yesterday and could play a role in a possible government shutdown come October.

The company says it will pursue “all available legal remedies” against Daleiden and his Sacramento-based Center for Medical Progress (CMP). On July 28, StemExpress was granted a temporary restraining order against release of further videos. It said in its court filing that “irreparable damage” could result, including violence against the firm and its executives. (See here for the full text of the filings.)

A story later in the San Francisco Chronicle said,  
Cate Dyer -- StemExpress photo
“After the videos were released, an anonymous Internet post disclosed the address of StemExpress’ chief executive (Cate Dyer) and said the executive should be strangled with piano wire….”
StemExpress said that release of more videos “will draw StemExpress and Dyer deeper into the vortex of public animosity stirred up by CMP’s crusade to brand everyone associated with Planned Parenthood as evil criminals, which will not only have (and already has had) a detrimental impact on StemExpress’s business reputation and relationships, but more importantly, it presents a real threat of danger to Dyer’s personal safety.”

StemExpress has lost at least one customer, Colorado State University. But more of the firm's wide-ranging clients are likely to be rethinking their connection because of the controversy.

StemExpress said in a court filing that its customers include nearly every major medical research institution in the country, major pharmaceutical companies, medical schools, overseas firms and federal agencies.

Headlines involving StemExpress have rattled around cyberspace for the last few weeks. A search this afternoon of  Google News using the term “stemexpress” turned up 61,400 results. They included such headlines as:


Yesterday, the company was the target of a protest at its headquarters by demonstrators who told it to “get Stem out of Hangtown,” the Gold Rush name for Placerville.

In the company's court filings,  it said that Daileden used a fake named (Robert Sarkis) and pretended to work for a fake company, BioMax Procurement Services, in order to meet privately with Planned Parenthood officials.

The company said the recordings were “a clear violation of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, which criminalizes the non-consensual recording of confidential communications.”

The company noted that the U.S. Department of Justice and the California attorney general, Kamala Harris, have both launched criminal investigations into the matter.  

Yesterday the company released a statement that said,
“Ninety percent of our work is with adult, healthy, living donors and 100% of our samples are collected according to the highest ethical standards and in strict adherence to the law.  StemExpress has never requested nor received an intact fetus.
"StemExpress performs extensive work to test, isolate and purify the donated cells so that researchers can use them to help find cures and treatments for life’s significant medical conditions. It is for this work that we are paid.
"We would all benefit from a dialogue about how rare and important human materials are collected, how stem cell research works and the incredible power of regenerative medicine to improve the quality of life of so many people stricken with disease."
Bits and pieces have surfaced on the Internet about Daileden from a variety of sources. He grew up in Davis, about 57 miles west of StemExpress' headquarters.  

Patti Armstrong of the National Catholic Register reported on July 22
“It was while majoring in government at Claremont McKenna College in California that Daleiden received his first hint that the abortion industry was selling parts from aborted babies.
“I was working as a research assistant and attended a stem-cell conference as part of my job,” he said. “The presenter mentioned using cells from an aborted baby for research. That got my attention. I thought, ‘Wait a minute — what?’” 
Armstrong reported that Daleiden was prepped for his undercover work by Theresa Deisher, who holds a Ph.D. from Stanford and is "president of Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute and CEO of AVM Biotechnology; both (Seattle) companies have a mission to end the use of aborted babies in biomedical research."
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