TGIF: Craziest stem cell stories of the week

I have to admit a small fascination for tabloid, wildly over the top stories about stem cells.

Maybe it’s just that I need a good laugh to escape the black hole of academia at times even if only momentarily?

Of course some crazy stem cell stories reflect actually dangerous situations for patients, but that doesn’t make these tales any less weird.

Janice DickinsonBy far the weirdest stem cell story of the past week is that of former supermodel Janice Dickinson who, according to SFGate, flew with her beau Rocky to China for an anti-aging stem cell treatment at the Blue Horizon Stem Cell Clinic.

I’m guessing she wants to look and feel more like she did decades ago on Vogue. Who doesn’t want to feel a bit younger, but some are willing to go to more extreme measures.

The “therapy” for Dickinson apparently consisted of an allogeneic transplant of human placental stem cells.

Dickinson tells Star magazine, “If anybody is going to have a state-of-the-art, revolutionary skin-care miracle, it’s going to be me, with my hand out, first in line. My skin has gone from grey to rosy pink, and I feel great…!

Sounds impressive, huh? Keep in mind that Dickinson is now apparently a spokesperson for the clinic. She goes on to rave about the treatment and claim some unusual benefits. The cells seem to be administered by injection, here, there, and apparently everywhere in the body.:

“My skin is just amazing. My face and legs and my hands and my feet and my vagina and my butt. Everything got so smooth. My life has improved tremendously!”


“I flew 24 hours to China with my fiance, Rocky, and went directly from the airport to the hospital, where I was prepped for the infusion… I woke up at 3am the following morning energized like there was no tomorrow. Rocky had the infusion too, and he and I had some of the best sex we’ve had in years!

What the…?

Apparently Dickinson is talking up the Chinese stem cell clinic to her fellow celebs, sometimes with not such positive results. The NY Daily News reports that Dickinson was pumping the clinic at a celeb party, but that some, including Jane Fonda, were not impressed.

My take? This is potentially dangerous and I can’t really see any reason it’d work. When celebs get dubious stem cell treatments and then publicly pitch them, it puts the public at risk.

One of the other craziest stem cell stories of the week was the news (reported by The Raw Story) out of the Philippines about how the Filipino rich and famous are increasingly turning to stem cells to “fight” aging.

The story featured one Cynthia Carrion-Norton, who is a member of the Philippine Olympic Committee and a former undersecretary for medical tourism. That latter government position is an interesting one indeed, huh? It’s actually not that surprising because the Philippine government is very bullish on promoting stem cell tourism to the country.

Carrion-Norton and many other politicos in her country have received stem cell interventions themselves and publicly endorse the procedures too. It’s unclear if they are compensated for doing so. Some of the treatments take place in the Philippines, while others take place in Germany:

Thai medical entrepreneur Bobby Kittichaiwong says he has a lucrative business catering to the Filipino elite, who pay $20,000 to visit his Villa Medica clinic in Germany for a more controversial form of stem cell therapy.

In this case the stem cells are supposed to fight aging.

Skeptical? Hold onto your hat because the stem cells in this case are not human, but rather are fetal sheep. They are the based of so-called “fresh cell” therapy.

The Raw Story says the clientele are mostly male and often includes public officials such as former Philippine president Joseph Estrada.

My opinion of this? It’s pure snake….er, sheep oil.

3 thoughts on “TGIF: Craziest stem cell stories of the week”

  1. Pingback: Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog – TGIF: Craziest stem cell stories of the week | Stu's Stem Cell Blog

  2. Ha, but you do know why it might work. Nothing like a little irritation to pink up the skin. A good slap would also work.

    Seriously, the placebo effect does have real physiological effects for some conditions… Take it seriously, please! Why, a mere suggestion has been known to cause an outbreak of rampant sex.

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