Sunday, June 16, 2019

Stem Cell Video Flap: California Firm Asks Concerned Scientists to Reconsider Requests for Removal

This is a clip from the web site for the video "The Healthcare Revolution."
More details emerged late today about a controversial Internet video backed by a California stem cell firm that is being sued by federal government to halt what allegedly are "unproven and potentially dangerous treatments."

The video features the CEO of the $3 billion stem cell agency, Maria Millan, and more than 80 other researchers and academics. The video website displays logos of academic institutions ranging from Stanford to the University of Cambridge. The site says the video will reveal that "stem cell technology that is said to be 10, 20, years down the road is actually here – NOW!"

Some of the researchers who appear in the video have asked to be removed because of its connection to Cell Surgical Network(CSN), which has offices in Beverly Hills and Rancho Mirage, Ca. 
The firm said it has funded a portion of what it called "this important docuseries." CSN today asked concerned scientists to reconsider their requests. 

CSN has been sued by the Food and Drug Administration to  halt its treatment practices.

Jeanne Loring, professor emeritus from Scripps Research, is one of those scientists whose remarks were carried in the video. In an email, she said she only learned that she was in the video last week. The recording of her came from an interview that she did at the World Stem Cell Summit. 

Loring has been a longstanding foe of unregulated stem cell clinics. She wrote the producers of the video, Sara and Bobby Sheehan:

"As I have explained many times, to print reporters, community groups, and in video interviews, as a scientist with a moral compass, I cannot condone exploitation of desperate people who are led to believe that they will be cured or even helped by a clinic or a pill or any purported therapy that is not based in science.... 
"You have placed my interview among those of people who are charlatans and thieves, and I request that you remove all reference to me in the video and on your website." 
(See here for the full text of Loring's letter.)

The firm initially granted Loring's request but then late today appealed to her to change her mind. Loring refused. 

In her email today to Loring, Sara Sheehan cited a letter sent out today to "concerned stem cell scientists and doctors" by Mark Berman, co-founder of Cell Surgical Network. It appeared to be addressed to other researchers filmed for the video. 

Berman said his firm made "no effort to control (the) production" of the video. 

Berman told the researchers,
"Personally, I think a lot of the participants who want to drop out know little and/or nothing about the work CSN has been doing worldwide. They do not know about some of the amazing basic science research we have funded, nor do they know about the hundreds of patients that we have treated at no cost and hundreds at markedly reduced rates including dozens of patients that have had multiple deployments at no cost."
(The full text of Berman's letter can be found here.)
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