Weekly reads: Google, CIRM, young Swedish bone marrow – The Niche

For me, this was another week of heavy grant writing but also taking on Google again. How? Over how badly its search engine often performs on stem cell queries. I have a new piece at MedPage Today. It’s focused on the problem of Google Search promoting unproven stem cell clinic websites.

stem cells Google
Searching about stem cells on Google can be risky.

Google still prefers stem cell clinic websites to NIH, Mayo, etc.

Here it is. Why I ‘Anti-Trust’ Google Search on HealthcareMedPage Today It’s kind of a mystery as to why, but Google seems to love the websites of many stem cell clinics. Do the clinics spend a ton on SEO? Have some other web magic?

However clinics do it, Google often ranks them higher than the websites of NIH, Mayo, and others that are clear experts. In almost 100% of cases, the clinics are not the experts. Can Google not tell the difference? Does it not care that these firms market unproven medical offerings? Does Google get something out of so highly ranking these clinic websites? I wish I had more answers.

As I’ve written before here on The Niche and for STAT News, I met with Google a couple of years back and went over this issue with them. Perhaps it was naive of me to expect them to actually change anything. They know best, of course.

One other sad possibility is that Google ranks the clinic websites so highly because it somehow believes that people want easier access to risky, unproven medical interventions and promotional “information” that the clinics have on their sites.

Will Google change moving forward on stem cells? Probably not but the stakes are high so it’s important to try to make a difference here. It seems patients are almost always recruited to clinics via the web and Google dominates.

[embedded content]

Weekly reader question-and-answer videos

I’m doing a new video feature of answering a reader question each week (hopefully each week if I can find time) by way of our stem cell YouTube channel. Above I have the first installment where I discuss the death of the man who got stem cells down in Tijuana.

A reader wanted to know if it could be just a coincidence. If you like these videos please subscribe to our channel and help us get to over 1,000 subscribers.

More stem cell and regenerative reads

First live birth of a chimeric monkey is a technical feat, but pushes ethical boundaries, Fierce Biotech.

CIRM President Maria Milan is moving on, CIRM. It’s not clear why she is leaving. During her time at CIRM, the agency thrived and started many clinical trials.

Bryan Johnson continues his series of unproven anti-aging efforts with the latest being, oddly enough, “young Swedish bone marrow”. Huh?

See the tweet above. About a dozen concerns come to mind across several areas.

I asked him on Twitter if he got the procedure for free to promote it. No reply. He reportedly has also tried young blood from his son. See the embedded link in this sentence for more on the whole idea of young blood for anti-aging.

I also wrote recently about the idea of health flexing and health celebrities in the anti-aging space.

dumb stem cell headline
My choice for the dumb stem cell headline of this week.

Dumb stem cell headline of the week

Speaking of anti-aging stuff, we move on to the dumb headline of the week. Almost every week there’s a new article in the stem cell and regenerative space that has an awful headline, sometimes leading to a train wreck article. I try not to link to these articles here, but they are important to highlight to combat hype and misinformation. I’ve pasted this week’s headline above. The actual article isn’t pretty either.

Some of these weekly “winners” are candidates for The Screamers Science Hype Award. I give these awards out each year for science statements and headlines that just scream out biological sciences-related hype. Something related to anti-aging is a strong candidate for the science hype award this year. If you have any nominees, please let me know.