Alicia PhD

Alicia PhD
New Hampshire, United States
September 08
Alicia has a PhD in Experimental Pathology and, after having worked in a genetics lab for her dissertation, now edits scientific manuscripts full-time from the comfort of the White Mountains. Alicia is also a writer, contributing health commentary and articles on disease and anatomy to many online publishers. She upkeeps a number of blogs devoted to her interests in public health and science.


JUNE 21, 2010 1:53PM

How stem cell researchers are protecting patients

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Stem cells have a lot of potential, some of which is already being tapped to treat diseases like leukemia and blood disorders (via bone marrow transplants). Private clinics offering stem cell therapies are popping up everywhere. But with 200 of these clinics currently open worldwide, therapies are being offered to desperate patients that have not been tested, sometimes killing them. One such patient had kidney disease - so a private clinic injected stem cells into their kidney. One problem though - this route of administration had not been tested or confirmed. Complications developed - complications that are now known only because of this clinic's lack of ethics - and the patient died.

This situation is concerning to the International Society for Stem Cell Research. That's where their new website CloserLookatStemCells comes in. The Society has setup the website to provide patients information about the clinics and procedures they may be pursuing. So they can know what has been shown to work, what has not been done, and what they can actually expect based on the experimental literature and clinical testing. 

One of the Canadian researchers who examined the circumstances surrounding the kidney case mentioned above summed it up as such:

"Premature enthusiasm and protocols that are not fully vetted are dangerous and result in negative publicity for the field of stem cell research, and more importantly, may result in disastrous outcomes with no benefit to the patient.

Although there is promise, a large gap still exists between scientific knowledge and clinical translation for safe and effective stem cell-based therapies."


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Thanks for the heads up.
It's a tough call, face certain death from kidney failure, or uncertain or sooner death from uncharted territory. I don't think we can know what it's like to be facing that decision. There is a point where research fails and there is a point where chances will be taken. Sorry for people that get duped into bogus treatments. On the other hand, sorry for people who believe they should live forever.
I'm playing catch-up, Alicia.
As always you have an informative post. This one holds special interest for me. I did not realize stem cells were being used in kidney therapy. So needless to say, I am grateful for the website referral which I have bookmarked. Thank you.