My Recent Lecture on Cleaning Up the Stem Cell Wild West

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I live in a house that was built when Boulder, Colorado, was the Wild West. In fact, there is an oral history online from the daughter of Dr. William Duane (one of the house’s original occupants and later the father of nuclear medicine) about just how wild it was. She recants that when Duane first moved to Boulder with his new bride, he needed to close all of the curtains in the front of the house one night because, right there in downtown Boulder, they had “strung a man up”. The world of stem cells is in a similar state, an out-of-control free-for-all that, in some ways, makes the real Wild West look tame. Hence, this is a video of my recent lecture at the MedRebels conference in Austin, Texas, on this topic.

In the video I give numerous examples of problems:

I also review a white paper by a cord-blood manufacturer and show physicians how to dig into it to figure out if it really shows that the product has mesenchymal stem cells.

The upshot? I’m not the only physician out there working hard to fight the graft and dishonesty that has become prevalent in stem cell therapy. Others have signed on to the Orthobiologics Ethic Statement. I was also proud to have the father of this field from the orthopedic-surgery standpoint (Phillipe Hernigou, MD), who spoke after I did, to get on the podium and agree that this type of physician-initiated self-regulation is critical now. In his country (France), there are now very strict controls on all types of cell therapy, even bone marrow concentrate. Hence, they don’t have an out-of-control space. Having said that, with those restrictions come severe limitations on how physicians can innovate to help their patients. Hence, he agreed that if we don’t begin cleaning up our own act here in the U.S., we won’t like what happens.

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