What’s next for Celltex? Texas adult stem cell provider that treated Rick Perry has uncertain future

Celltex is that adult stem cell company that treated Governor Perry and upwards of 80 other people with stem cell products that they grew in their lab in Texas.

I wonder what the leadership of Celltex is thinking right now about its FDA audit, their future, and that pesky professor/blogger in California…what’s his name?

I can’t be sure because Celltex won’t talk to me, but I think they’re having to deal with a totally new reality since Monday brought their FDA inspection report to light.

They and their stem cell products both are under the microscope. An uncomfortable position to be sure.

Their press release yesterday in reaction to their FDA audit has caused a lot of buzz and public speculation about what’s next for them.

The outlook, according to others who have gone on the record, seems gloomy.

Texas A&M Daily Post (TM Daily Post) has an article with the title:

Why Celltex Might be In Trouble

Biopolitical Times asks in an article:

Will the FDA Close Down Celltex?

In an article from Nature titled “US drug regulator audits Texas stem-cell company” the authors say (amongst a slew of negative statements):

Another shoe is yet to drop (on Celltex).

The Chronicle of Higher Education lead on a story on Celltex with the title:

FDA Inspectors Pound Celltex

Since Celltex won’t talk to me, I asked some people in the field for their perspectives on what this all means.

Still today most won’t go on the record, which says something.

However, a longtime, very famous (and hence anonymous) stem cell expert told me this:

Remember XCell and how we wondered how on earth they could perform untested stem cell “therapies” in a first-world country?  I learned from my German colleagues that they were working legally under a system that allows physicians to have a great deal of leeway in how they treat their patients.  This allowed physicians in Germany to transplant stem cells to patients if they said that they thought it might be in the best interest of their patients.  This is what worries me- Texas is sounding a great deal like Germany- putting faith in physicians to treat patients by whatever means they think might help. Physicians are not experts in stem cells and there is no expert body (short of the FDA) that can legitimately give useful guidance to them.  Germany had oversight over XCell in much the same way that Texas proposes to have oversight over CellTex and its kin.  XCell, in spite of their oversight, killed at least two patients, and only then did the government shut them down.  It was quite an embarrassment for Germany. The founder of XCell has moved his operations to Lebanon- I don’t think that is because he expects to receive better oversight there…

I don’t necessarily agree with this comparison, but it is interesting and raises the important broader question: what is the appropriate level of oversight?

It may take years to answer that question.

So a more pressing, immediate question is what’s next for Celltex.

The consensus is that there is a second boot yet to fall on Celltex from the FDA and I could not find one person who thought the Celltex spin in their press release did them any good. If anything it might just accelerate further steps by the FDA.

Note. I want to take this opportunity to point out that there are numerous other adult stem cell companies that are doing their utmost to comply with regulatory guidelines and always have and in my earlier posts of this week and quote to the Houston Chronicle I did not mean to suggest otherwise.

3 thoughts on “What’s next for Celltex? Texas adult stem cell provider that treated Rick Perry has uncertain future


  1. Dr. Knoepfler,
    I point you to a very nice piece written by another Texan as to why risk is important to our growth. In today’s rushed society we say without risk there is no reward, there are countless examples, Christopher Columbus sailing over the edge of the earth, and other more obscure examples like a famous artist who used cadavers to help his gift.
    What CellTex did, does, doesn’t do, will do is irrelevant in future history except for the fact that it sparked our collective… “Dynamus”. And for that alone whether you are a pundit, critic, or fan, CellTex has a place in stem cell history.

    Why Michelangelo Studied Cadavers
    The Spiritual and Spirited Dimensions of Scholarship
    by Richard Leo Enos, Professor; Texas Christian University with selective additions by JAC

    Consider the stories surrounding Michelangelo, who was so driven to perfection in his art that he obtained papal permission to view dissections of the human body in order to study anatomy and kinesiology. Why would Michelangelo seek dispensation from what the Church (at the time) would consider blasphemy—the defilement of the human body—for the sake of his art? Why would Jean-Francois Champollion devote much of his life to deciphering Egyptian, driving himself relentlessly while constantly facing criticism by would-be competitors? We can dismiss Michelangelo, Champollion, Columbus, Archimedes, Copernicus – and countless other “geniuses” – as talented by obsessive fanatics who drove themselves beyond all reasonable limits to produce unparalleled contributions to the arts, sciences, and humanities. However, a better route to take would be not to waive these efforts away as magnificent aberrations, but rather to pause and consider what unleashed their talent.
    What does it mean to be smart and successful? Two prominent Greek thinkers help to clarify the meaning of being smart and successful. The Athenian educator Isocrates has given us the secret of how talent can be realized. In his Antidosis, written at the age of 82, Isocrates claimed that there are three traits that must exist for a smart and successful student: talent, practice and experience. Talent is native ability, the gift from God, what Cicero called ingenium. In our cyber-terms, we think that someone is well wired or programmed. It is not unusual, for example, to see children who seem to be light-years ahead of their peers on the soccer field and in the classroom, but often these early bloomers fade into obscurity. I believe that this fading happens not because talent is diminished but that it is un(der)developed and the individual is lacking in the other two traits that Isocrates sees as essential for the smart and successful person: practice and experience.
    Aristotle, our second Greek thinker, provides insight to, and a resolution of, this issue. in the opening passages of Rhetoric, Aristotle maintained that people not only have talent but a dynamis or power. This capacity can lay dormant, but when energized (energia), the dormant talent becomes activated; individuals are willing to work hard, and to risk failure, through performance. I believe that the reason some “smart” people never accomplish much of anything is because they (for a variety of reasons) never tap into that dynamis; they never realize the talent buried within them. I believe that hard work, effort, and risk-taking will not only activate talent but make people realize that all of us have much more ability than we realize.

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