Crackdown on “stem cell treatment” fraud in US

by Alexey Bersenev on January 4, 2012 · 1 comment

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The recent FBI indictments in “stem cell therapy” fraud caused a big buzz in professional community. I’d like to link to some opinions:

For me, the most interesting part was about “American scientist”.
From FBI release:

The stem cells referenced in the indictment were created and manufactured from umbilical cord blood obtained from birth mothers who were patients of Ramon – a licensed midwife who operated The Maternity Care Clinic in Del Rio, Texas. Ramon allegedly sold the cord blood to a company called Global Laboratories located in Scottsdale, Ariz. After obtaining the cord blood from Ramon, the indictment alleges Global Laboratories would send the tissue to Dammai – a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine in Charleston, S.C. Dammai, without obtaining approval from FDA or University authorities, allegedly used university facilities to create stem cells that were later sold by Global Laboratories. As a result of this fraudulent scheme, the public was mislead into believing that stem cells and other drug and biological products sold by defendants had been approved by the FDA to treat cancer, ALS, MS and Parkinson’s Disease, The defendants allegedly received more than $1.5 million from patients suffering from incurable diseases.

from Nature news:

According to his university web page, Dammai has been an assistant professor at MUSC since 2007. He was the principal investigator on a $1.4 million, five-year R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the cellular basis of renal cell carcinoma that ended this year.
Dammai could not be reached for comment.

Now, an important message. As Zubin Master and David Resnik recently noted in their article:

Scientists are uniquely positioned to help quell stem cell tourism because of their knowledge and control over stem cell materials.

They think, that scientists should take responsibility and help to limit a widespread “stem cell treatments” fraud.

We are in agreement with Paul Knoepfler, Doug Sipp, Zubin Master, David Resnik and therefore –
SCA special comment:
Dear scientists, be very careful if you ever will be approached by dubious people from so-called “stem cell clinics”. Don’t buy a bullsh*t, don’t sell your soul. Remember, that cells for use in humans, must be processed and manufactured in certified facilities and regulated by law. Otherwise you can end up in a jail. Show your smartness and intelligence instead. Educate a public, spread the valid truthful information and become an advocates of your research. Share materials and reagents via “material transfer agreements” only with responsible colleagues. And, finally, remember – professionalism is your wealth, not a money.