November 28, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Duke autism

6 min read

Last week I wrote a long post detailing the troubling multimillion-dollar reverberations between the Duke autism program and a for-profit stem cell clinic in Panama called The Stem Cell Institute. The potential entanglements between the Duke group and the Panama clinic raise a bunch of questions and concerns. They center on questionable, unproven autism “treatments”. In Duke’s case, their own clinical trial showed there was no benefit, but they forging ahead anyway. Muddy waters This Duke-stem cell clinic situation is a prime example of …Read More

9 min read

There is a puzzle when it comes to the controversial idea of using cord blood for autism, because two of the strongest proponents are the autism cord blood program at Duke and for-profit, unproven stem cell clinics. On first glance it seemed like this was a bit of an odd couple to me. The links between the Duke autism program and one particular Panamanian stem cell clinic called generically enough “The Stem Cell Institute” appear to go beyond just their enthusiasm about cord blood …Read More

7 min read

A solid new, blinded placebo-controlled Phase II study from a Duke team clearly shows no benefit of cord blood for autism. Surprisingly, the team has said they are encouraged by the results. As a result, they apparently will continue this kind of work anyway despite their data. In contrast, I see the data as a probable stop sign. Few have been as upbeat over the years as this Duke team about the idea of cord blood for autism spectrum disorder. I have been one …Read More

7 min read

Amongst all that is bouncing around within the stem cell clinic maelstrom out there, one thing stands out for me as the most troubling. I’m talking about for-profit experimentation on children, such as injection of kids with unproven stem cells for autism or cerebral palsy by unproven clinics. In my opinion it’s almost always going to be risky and unethical. Doing any clinical research on children requires extra care and planning even within an FDA-approved clinical trial context. Obviously pediatric clinical trials are crucial, …Read More