Would you believe in a stem cell miracle?
Sometimes the mainstream media stumbles in its coverage of the stem cell world and a recent CNN puff piece on a patient of stem cell clinic Celltex is a prime example of just how extreme this can get.
The CNN piece focuses on a Celltex patient who self-reports perceived big improvement after receiving the non-FDA approved offerings of the Texas stem cell clinic. Celltex is most famous for their number one customer and supporter Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas and now DOE Secretary in the Trump administration. For more background on Celltex including the warning letter it received from the FDA, you can see archived posts here.
Jacqueline Howard of CNN wrote about how the patient was invited to and attended Trump’s big speech before Congress recently. Howard mostly blew it on this article as she provided no background on the controversy involving Celltex, its past run in with the FDA, and how its offerings that it sells to patients are not FDA-approved as safe and effective. Minor details, right?
What about the fact that these kinds of treatments cost the average patient thousands of dollars, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars? Not important enough to mention?
And risks? No mention. The reality is that using adipose stem cells grown in a lab has sizable risks.
The Celltex patient Sarah was invited to attend Trump’s speech before Congress by Texas Representative Pete Olson, who is a fan of the 21st Century Cures Act…and perhaps also of Celltex?
Could the stem cells have helped Sarah…and “changed her life” as the article’s title states boldly? Maybe. Maybe not. We just don’t know in these kinds of anecdotal situations. Regardless, I’m glad of her recovery whether it was the stem cells or not, and wish her all the best long term. Congrats on her recent engagement too.
The CNN writer Howard also referred in her article to a separate patient, Megan (not treated by Celltex) and quoted none other than Trump about how the FDA is supposedly holding back a whole torrent of ready for prime time medical miracles:
“If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan,” Trump said. “In fact, our children will grow up in a nation of miracles.”
That sounds like extreme hype to me by Trump both on the miracle side and negatively on the “blame the FDA for everything” side.
The CNN article just blindly accepts that Celltex provided some kind of miraculous cure to this one patient. Is this CNN piece a news article or an advertisement? There are plenty of skeptics about Celltex and about stem cell clinics more generally. Why not quote someone like George Daley for balance in that article?
Hopefully Celltex will (or perhaps already is) working with the FDA to get an IND and collect more data to address the safety and efficacy of what it is doing. In the long run does it really want to keep doing the transnational thing in Mexico?
CNN should do a way better job on this kind of piece.