The idea of stem cells outright curing diseases is exciting and has powerful appeal, but media need to be careful about using the word cure in headlines and articles as we saw this week related to a possible HIV Cure.
HIV cure via stem cells and chemo?
The big news of the week was that stem cells might have led to long-term remission or even possibly a cure for a woman with HIV and cancer.
While some of the media articles I saw on this news were rightly careful with their headlines, The NY Times (again) overdid it. Their article headline said the woman was outright cured without any qualifiers.
This reminds me of another NY Times article on stem cells recently (scroll down in that post I linked to) in which I think they also wrongly used the word cure in a headline. In that case at least they made it a question but they raised the possibility that a man had been cured of type I diabetes by an experimental stem cell infusion. In reality, the data just weren’t there to even ask that question in a headline I’d say.
As to the HIV story, here’s an example of a solid headline and article. Scientists have possibly cured HIV in a woman for the first time, NBC News.
This is good news, but there are some caveats here. This treatment is so intense and risky that it is only for those who have both certain kinds of blood cancers like some types of leukemia or lymphoma, and also have HIV.
More recommended reads
- Califf confirmed as FDA Commissioner, WaPo. It was a long slog but Robert Califf is now the new FDA Commissioner. There’s a vast amount of work ahead of him. I hope he does more on stem cell clinics than got done the last time he was Commissioner. Admittedly he was at the health of the FDA for only a relatively short time back then.
- The DNA dioxygenase Tet1 regulates H3K27 modification and embryonic stem cell biology independent of its catalytic activity, NAR.
- A combined cell and gene therapy approach for homotopic reconstruction of midbrain dopamine pathways using human pluripotent stem cells, Cell Stem Cell.
- Will We Soon Be Eating Chicken Grown From Animal Cells? NYT
- Whole-genome analysis of human embryonic stem cells enables rational line selection based on genetic variation, Cell Stem Cell.