Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Embryonic Stem Cell Frauds You Don't Hear About

The cry for more and more embryonic stem cell research goes on -- even amid the inefficiency, the descration of human life, and the clear evidence that adult stem cell research is the path of medical progress.

This illogical demand for embryonic stem cell research (and its funding by governments) also ignores the "stem cell swindle;" that is, the distortion of research findings, the manipulation of data, and the outright lies that are used to project a positive version of ESCR to the public.

And I'm not just talking about Hwang Woo-suk.

Indeed, an issue rarely spoken of in the controversy is what Dr. Stephen Barrett calls "the shady side" of ESCR therapy. Dr. Barrett, an author and consumer advocate who serves (among other things) as the Vice-President of the National Council Against Health Fraud, is himself a proponent of ESCR research. Nevertheless, this article by Barrett is a bold expose' of those companies who are claiming to already have developed therapies deriving from embryonic stem cells.

Among the companies Barrett investigates in his article is Medra, Inc., an outfit which I first discovered in a prominent ad at the top of the web page of Stem Cell Science, a supposedly mainstream and respectable web site which compiles news stories on ESCR. Clicking on the Medra ad brought me to a very slick advertising video used to bolster its Fetal Stem Cell Therapy, "a painless procedure, which takes place in approximately one hour, with no negative side effects" and which yields "remarkable physical and psychological improvements."


Dr. Barrett's research shows a different side of Medra:

...The chief American commercializer of embryonic stem cell therapy is William C. Rader, M.D., a psychiatrist in Malibu, California, who used to run Rader Institute clinics that specialized in treating eating disorders. For $25,000 (wired in advance), Rader will arrange for treatment at his Dominican Republic clinic.

In the past, he has also done business under the names Mediquest Ltd., Czech Foundation, and Dulcinea Institute, Ltd. A message posted to the Yahoo StemCells group indicates that before he opened his own clinic (in 1997 in the Bahamas), Rader escorted patients to the Ukraine clinic...

...Rader also claims that by "strengthening the immune system, fetal cells offer prevention from acquiring multiple diseases, including cancer, where the fetal cells actually form an anti-cancer barrier which becomes another anti-aging factor." [13] In order to substantiate such claims, thousands of people would have to be followed in a controlled trial that lasted many years. Stem cell technology has not existed long enough for any such study to have been done.

Medra, Inc.'s "Factsheet" identifies Rader as medical director and "Prof. Albert Scheller, M.D., Ph.D." as "chief scientific investigator." Searching Medline, I found no publications one by either of them that are relevant to the claims they make for Medra's treatment...

Barrett closes his article (one you should read through in its entirety) with this warning...

Although stem cell therapy has a few practical applications and considerable promise, there is no reason to believe that EmCell, Medra, the Brain Cell Therapeutic Clinic, Vita Nova, or the Beijing Xishan Institute for Neuroregeneration and Functional Recovery are providing it as a legitimate service. Their theories and methods are simplistic; their treatments may have adverse effects; they offer no credible outcome data; and their promises go far beyond what is now possible...