Review of cord banker Viacord: dubious autism claims & other concerns

Viacord is one of the most well known firms in the for-profit cord blood banking industry. Today’s post is a review of the firm. I see concrete reasons for concern. What is Viacord? | Dubious autism claims | Viacord cost | Overall Review | References What is Viacord? As a cord blood banking firm, Viacord freezes …

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Weekly reads: CRISPR, FDA stem cell loss, pioneering AMD study, MS, Verve Therapeutics

FDA stem cell policy flow chart.

The big news of the week was the big FDA stem cell in court by Judge Jesus Bernal here in California, who ruled in favor of a chain of stem cell clinics called Cell Surgical Network. The FDA had been seeking an injunction against the clinics. I believe the ruling was founded in part on …

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Judge drops a bomb on FDA in Cell Surgical Network stem cell clinic case

Cell Surgical Network stem cell clinic chain

In a ruling that could turn FDA stem cell clinic oversight on its head, Federal District Court Judge Jesus Bernal last night ruled in favor of the stem cell clinic chain Cell Surgical Network and other defendants. The FDA had been seeking permanent injunction against them. Here’s the court ruling. Drs. Mark Berman and Elliot …

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Fact-checking exosome therapy: costs, risks, & lack of data

model of an exosome, exosome therapy

Exosome therapy is a still-experimental cell therapy approach aimed at treating specific diseases using secretions from cells. It’s novel since most attention on cell therapies has been given to using the actual cells themselves. In addition, this approach is a newer idea than using cells as the drug to treat diseases. Interestingly, the term “cell …

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Weekly reads: taste buds, organoids, good news on CRISPR safety

Taste buds diagram

As I’ve mentioned recently, it’s my busy time for medical school teaching and not long ago we did a GI lab that included one of my favorite structures in the course: taste buds. Taste buds The medical students seem fascinated with taste buds too. I can tell as their professor when something is particularly interesting …

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Cryo Cell reviews: dubious cord cell clinic plans, risks, other issues

Cryo Cell, Cryo-Cell

In today’s post I review the cord blood firm Cryo Cell International and discuss specific concerns I have about it. A major issue is their plan to open a clinic selling unproven cord cell infusions to kids. I believe this is risky both for the firm and more importantly for the children. What is Cryo …

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Is unproven stem cell therapy covered by insurance?

Does insurance cover stem cell therapy? Even at clinics? What about coverage from employers?

A common question I hear from readers of The Niche is some version of, “Is stem cell therapy covered by insurance?” Sometimes they also ask about Medicare coverage. To be clear, I’m talking about unproven stem cell “therapies” here. The type clinics sell. It’s not FDA approved so generally insurance companies and Medicare will not …

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Weekly stem cell reads: aging & cells, iPS cell mutations, gut, more

Stem cells aging

Does aging do something to time so it seems like as you get older that time goes by faster? Remember as a little kid when summer seemed to last forever and car rides could be agonizingly long? I’ve heard two theories on this. One is that the brain’s baseline of activity slows down with aging …

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‘We don’t want to freak people out’: about that Jacob Hanna human embryo model startup

Jacob Hanna Renewal Bio

Stem cell biologist Jacob Hanna has a new startup called Renewal Bio. Its goal is to harvest cells or tissues from human embryo or fetus models for clinical use. I believe that their commercial ambitions have so far outstripped careful thought and discussion in the broader community of researchers. There are major risks here for …

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Regenerative medicine reads: retraction, FDA warning, CAR-T, ARM CEO

Timothy D. Hunt, new CEO of ARM, Alliance for Regenerative Medicine

I’ve tried to find some time to do some stem cell and other regenerative medicine reading too, but it’s been a busy week of teaching for me as a professor in our new academic year for the UC Davis School of Medicine. I help to teach the Histology part of the first-year curriculum. It’s an …

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