Friday, September 06, 2019

New Warning on Shady Stem Cell Clinics that Prey on Desperate Patients; California Hearing Coming Up

The head of the largest organization of stem cell scientists in the world this week spoke out about rogue stem cell clinics that are fleecing and endangering desperate patients. 

Deepak Srivastava
Gladstone photo
Deepak Srivastava, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research and president of the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco, said advertisements and pseudo news articles are promising cures for everything from autism to cerebral palsy.

"The claims simply aren’t true--they’re propagated by people wanting to make money off of a desperate and unsuspecting or unknowing public," Srivastava wrote on the web site of the Scientific American.

The headline on his article said, 
"Don’t Believe Everything You Hear about Stem Cells
"The science is progressing rapidly, but bad actors have co-opted stem cells’ hope and promise by preying on unsuspecting patients and their families"
The piece comes as California is preparing to take another step in regulation of the clinics, which have burgeoned across the nation.  Estimates are that the number of clinics exceeds 1,000 with the California having the largest share. 

The state Medical Board has scheduled a hearing on the clinics Sept. 18. The head of the state's $3 billion stem cell agency, Maria Millan, is slated to testify among others. Members of the public may testify as well. The Sacramento hearing will be broadcast on the Internet. 

(About eight hours after this item was published, the Medical Board board posted its agenda for the meeting.)

UC Davis stem cell scientist Paul Knoepfler and Leigh Turner of the University of Minnesota were the first to chronicle the scope of the dubious clinics. Knoepfler wrote this week about a follow-up study that he has published that showed that regulators have a whack-a-mole problem. 

Knoepfler said that his study "indicates that stem cell clinics are in general a fairly rapidly-changing type of business and many disappear or change over a few years. This makes overseeing this clinic industry harder for (regulators)." 

Both state stem cell agency and the international stem cell  group, which has more than 4,000 members in 60 countries,  provide information aimed at helping patients separate legitimate stem cell activities from bogus ones. Here is a link to the ISSCR advice. Here is a link the state stem cell agency's information. 
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