Weekly reads: late Macchiarini retractions, stem cells & Lululemon – The Niche

Paolo Macchiarini is one of a small group of people in the stem cell universe whose misconduct has blown up in the press. Piero Anversa, Haruko Obokata, Hwang Woo-Suk, and some operators in the unproven stem cell clinic sphere come to mind.

Macchiarini published quite a few seriously problematic papers, some of which just hung out in the literature unretracted. The journal The Lancet has done an awful job of handling flawed papers by Macchiarini.

Now they’ve finally taken some late action we’ll start with that.

Dr. Paolo Macchiarini in happier times.

Two key Paolo Macchiarini retractions by The Lancet

Lancet retracts two more papers by convicted surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, RetractionWatch. Dang, this took forever. The Lancet hurt its own reputation by stonewalling for many unnecessary years on these flawed papers. Macchiarini has been sentenced to prison, some of his patients died, and there’s clear misconduct, but The Lancet wouldn’t budge until now, many years later.

Look here for more background on Paolo Macchiarini and his saga.

ISSCR & Lululemon

ISSCR Launches Website to Inform Patients and the Public About Stem Cells, ISSCR. This is a great new ISSCR website. The style is appealing. I’ve only taken a quick first glance, but it seems very helpful in terms of content. They even have a page to report unproven stem cell marketing or adverse events across the world. It seems fairly different in style compared to their original Closer Look At Stem Cells site.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson takes 2 popular longevity drugs — and flies to Mexico for stem cell injections — to try to stave off his muscular dystrophy, Yahoo. This is such a complicated story on multiple levels. Yahoo doesn’t do a good job on the stem cell angle. It mentions them this way, “He’s also trying some of the most popular longevity treatments: stem cells, NAD+, and rapamycin.”

Popular? Maybe, but how about mentioning risks? Lack of science? People who have been hurt going to Mexico to get stem cells?  A man died just a week or so ago after getting stem cells in Mexico. Then there was Jim Gass who ended up with a tumor on his spine after going to Mexico and other places to get stem cell injections. Of course, many people have been hurt going to clinics right here in the U.S. too.

I wish Chip the best and one one level I don’t blame him for taking risks for a severe disease. However, this kind of action (and associated press) by a famous person potentially leads to others taking big risks too including on unproven stem cells. Also, some of those everyday folks may not have millions of dollars to try on high-risk shots in the dark. On the more positive, Wilson is investing heavily in biomedical research.

Maybe we should be thankful the author of this article doesn’t say she also got stem cells and how amazing they are?

Other recommended stem cell and regenerative medicine reads