Are Stem Cell Clinics Legit?
Sitting on the fringes of the mainstream health industry, nearly 600 clinics offering stem cell treatments have sprouted up in the United States. They promise relief from an array of ailments, from spinal cord injury, stroke and Parkinson’s disease to ALS and Alzheimer’s. Stem cell clinics tend to market directly to consumers; their procedures typically are not covered by insurance, and they use a regulatory loophole to perform injection therapies for uses that are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Beyond isolated horror stories, there are concerns about the treatments performed by certain clinics. “They’re basically fraudulent,” says Larry Goldstein, MD, PhD, director of the Stem Cell program at the University of California, San Diego, and scientific director of the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. “They take advantage of the average person’s lack of sophisticated medical information and judgment and promise improvements in disease that are not reasonable.”
Stem cell company for sports legends facing financial complaints
Stemedica Cell Technologies, a company that manufactured experimental stem cell medicine for several aging sports heroes is facing several complaints in court for large unpaid bills, as well as a complaint by an investor who accuses the company of misusing funds and fraud.
Stemedica operates in a promising but risky industry – for investors, businesses and consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the field but has not approved any stem cell-based products for use in the U.S., other than cord blood-derived blood-forming stem cells for certain conditions.
A big reason for this is that the science is so new. FDA approval often requires years of expensive testing to determine whether such products are effective and safe.
“It’s unproven, and so when you invest in a company that’s at the clinical trial stage, it’s true: There is a risk,” said Larry Goldstein, MD, PhD, a professor and stem cell expert at the University of California, San Diego. “On the other hand, stem cell therapies in general look as though they have great promise, and the only way to figure out what’s going to work is through good, randomized, double-blind clinical trials.”
Glycobiology: Sweet success
A growing number of scientists are finding career opportunities studying the biology of glycans — the sugar molecules that often adorn the surface of cells. Glycans are involved in practically every area of biology, from helping cells to communicate to recognizing invading pathogens. But the field has taken a while to get off the ground, in part because glycans are dizzyingly complex and few tools were available to make them accessible to researchers.
"Glycans are so fundamental to biological processes that learning about them will help to give researchers a more comprehensive understanding of biology, even if they don't specialize in glycobiology", says Ajit Varki, MD, PhD, who co-directs the Glycobiology Research and Training Center at the University of California, San Diego
Is Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Jeopardy?
In 2001, former President George W. Bush cast a cloud over human embryonic stem cell research by barring the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding research that used embryonic stem cells beyond the 60 cell lines that already existed.
But in 2009, then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order repealing Bush’s policy.
In 2010, when renowned stem cell scientist Lawrence Goldstein, PhD, published his groundbreaking book “Stem Cells for Dummies,” with co-author Meg Schneider, the forecast for human embryonic stem cell research had just begun to brighten.
But now use of human embryonic stem cells are once again under fire from conservative and pro-life groups.
San Diego medical researchers discuss Trump’s budget cuts
Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, will host a medical research roundtable with local life science leaders and disease advocacy groups in Torrey Pines Monday to discuss the impending budget cuts to the National Institutes of Health.
Davis will be joined in the discussion by Jimmy Jackson, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of Biocom, a nonprofit that represents some 800 health science companies; Dr. Larry Goldstein, PhD, Director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program and the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center; P. Kay Coleman, Board Chair of the American Cancer Society of California; Susan H. Tousi, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Illumina; and Katrina Young, Patient Advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.