About that Captain Kirk ‘stem cell treatment’

Captain Kirk McCoy
Captain Kirk getting some amazing injection (probably not stem cells) from Dr. McCoy
Captain Kirk McCoy
Captain Kirk getting some amazing injection (probably not stem cells) from Dr. McCoy

When we mix celebrities like William Shatner who played Captain Kirk on the original Star Trek series with stem cells, things usually end badly.  For this reason when I read that Shatner had gotten a supposed stem cell treatment, I saw it as bad news. Like the arrival of a Borg ship.

Just one problem here is that Shatner’s getting unproven stem cells will almost certainly translate into many everyday people following suit. These people are likely to lose 10s of thousands of dollars and put themselves at risks of health problems.

Hopefully Shatner himself won’t suffer some major side effect. I wish him well even though in my view he shouldn’t be advertising stem cells in a sense.

I can’t help but be reminded of the classic line from Star Trek when Captain Kirk asks McCoy to do something impossible like reverse death or something beyond what a doctor normally does and McCoy says something along the lines of, “I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker!” However, I don’t think the “miracle worker” part ever actually was uttered by McCoy. I seem to remember one more like, “I’m a doctor, not a bricklayer!”

What’s going on now?

Last week, Shatner tweeted (see above) about his personal experiment in this way:

“Today I received restorative stem cells from my good friend Greg DiRienzo at ProGenaCell,” Shatner tweeted. “The stem cells were manufactured by Invitrx here in So Cal. My friend Dr Mathi Senapathi gave the cells to me intravenously. Is it possible to turn back the clock? I will let you know.”

These names, other than ProGenaCell, did not ring an immediate bell for me so I had to look them up.

I couldn’t find that much about Greg DiRienzo (not to be confused via a professor in NY by a similar name), but over at Respectful Insolence in a post about Shatner’s stem cell adventure, we get this scathing bit:

“Not coincidentally, William Shatner’s friend Greg DiRienzo is the CEO and Founder of Integrative Cancer Centers of America; founder and current CEO of ProGenaCell; and the founder and CEO of Medici Integrative Health & Surgery Center, a bariatric surgery center in Tijuana, plus several other companies.

I don’t know if ProGenaCell’s cornucopia of quackery that it uses with its stem cell concoctions is as extensive (probably not), but “detox” is an enormous red flag.”

I’d say there are many red flags here. Respectful Insolence has more on Invitrx so check out the full article.

What is ProGenaCell?

It’s a stem cell clinic firm. Poking around their website led me to their page on stem cells, where we see in my opinion a chilling passage touting animal stem cells (xeno) amongst others. Wait, are they really injecting people with animal cells? It seems so based on this material from that page:

“Progenitor Xenotransplants and Cord Blood Cells are the stem cells of choice used by Progenacell Physicians. Most stem cell companies use one or the other, however Progenacell is the only company in the world that has perfected the use of both of these therapies combined as one treatment.”

Oh, geez.

And are they also doing allogeneic cord blood cell injections?

I wonder what Shatner had injected?

Hello, FDA?

Who is Dr. Mathi Senapathi?

It’s hard to be sure. I found that he seems to be VP of something in S. California called “Pathogenesys LLC”. Orac over at Respectful Insolence couldn’t find much either, but did say that this guy is part of something else called “Senapathi Biologicx Medicine in Indonesia.”

As with other celebrities another issue here that comes to mind for me and that Orac also mentioned is that Shatner may have gotten the cell injections for free or at a discounted price in exchange for free publicity for the firm. We’ve seen that kind of question arise in other celebrity stem cell cases like Gordie Howe and others including the guy Ben Greenfield who apparently got stem cells injected into his penis.

If I had to guess, I bet Shatner got free stems and something like $50K on top of that. It’s interesting that Shatner basically disclosed that his tweet was an advertisement by starting it was hashtag “ad”.

What would Spock say to all of this?

5 Comments


  1. Well, Spock and Kirk did have at least one adventure back in time. To kidnap a couple of humpback whales, as I recall. It seems that Shatner made a buck or two from fake physics, so I guess he’s in for some skin from fake biology. Spock went along for the ride back then…


    • I think it says something about public understanding that there aren´t many references to stem cells in popular fiction, unlike good old injections of DNA from some beasty with special capabilities that we want. I can only think of Orphan Black where stem cell therapy was described, and done pretty well too although, I can see less patient viewers skipping the explanations in favor of more powers and less geek. Maybe stem cells are just not cool enough for SciFi?

      It´s TV Jim, but not as we know it!

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