Sunday, November 27, 2016

Dubious Stem Cell Therapies Attract Coverage in California's Capital

The leading newspaper in California's state capital this weekend published a lengthy piece exploring the world of unproven stem cell therapies, including one being offered in its own backyard. 

Reporter Claudia Buck of The Sacramento Bee wrote,
"For long-suffering patients...stem cells offer tantalizing hope. In the last few years, more than 570 stem cell clinics have popped up nationwide, advertising treatment for a range of maladies, from autism and Alzheimer’s to neuropathy and Parkinson’s disease, according to a recent UC Davis study. About 113 of those are operating in California. 
"But do they really work? According to most stem cell experts and the federal government, there’s no way to know yet."
Buck quoted Kevin McCormack, spokesman for the California stem cell agency, as saying,
“It’s quite clear that these people are offering treatments that haven’t been tested in clinical trials. It’s a little concerning,”
Buck wrote,
"'My view is that it’s a giant human experiment that doesn’t have FDA approval,' said Paul Knoepfler, a UC Davis stem cell expert, who co-authored the study identifying the 570 clinics. 'I don’t know how much patients are aware of how uncertain the benefits and risks are. As a scientist, it’s worrisome.'"
Knoepfler, who publishes a blog on stem cell matters, has written in the past about advertising in The Bee by a stem cell business called Nervana. The firm was mentioned in Buck's article, which, however, did not note that Nervana has taken out full page advertisements in the past in The Bee.

Knoepfler's most recent piece on Oct. 21 also noted that the firm had taken out a full page ad in the San Diego Union Tribune as well.  The UC Davis researcher said at the time,
"I don’t believe there is a solid, medical or scientific basis for what they are selling."

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