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Warrior Mother speak. Reporter listen.

July 9th, 2009 · 44 Comments · Careless sourcing, Narrative

From WABI in Bangor, Maine, comes a feel-good story about a child who will “venture to Costa Rica to be the first person from Maine to have Adult Stem Cell Therapy for Autism.” Reporter Meghan Hayward introduces us to the Kelly family, and eight-year-old Kenneth who is making his mother very sad.

“It’s really hard because we can’t go anywhere,” says a tearful Marty Kelly. “We can’t have anyone over – he just screams all day.”

We’ve seen this story before. It’s the Warrior Mother narrative, parents fighting the odds and persevering against a heartless medical establishment that just doesn’t get it. Warrior Mothers hold a special power over news reporters – they can say or do just about anything and the hapless journalist dutifully reports. The same reporter who  question a city council person’s expense report becomes an obsequious stenographer when facing the Warrior Mother.

That’s because Warrior Mothers are fighters. Marty Kelly, we learn, was in denial about her son’s autism for three years before she snapped out of it and bought a hyperbaric oxygen chamber which, according to WABI, produced “great results.” If WABI had actually investigated Kelly’s claims,  we would hear that hyperbaric oxygen has never been proven safe and effective for autism. But such details would only displease Warrior Mother.

Unsatisfied with mere great results, the Kellys will now expose their son to a third-world alternative medical clinic, and a treatment that is not only unproven, but potentially dangerous. But hey, Warrior Mother has spoken:

After a lot of research, Marty came across Adult Stem Cell Therapy.

The stem cells go into the body, find the damaged areas, and begin to form new working blood vessels that carry oxygen and rejuvenate the damaged tissues.

The therapy is not done in the United States. They will take Kenneth to Costa Rica.

“It feels as though, yes there is hope and yes, truly he will become a normal boy that will face challenges that we all face as adults.”

So intimidating is Warrior Mother that our young reporter neglected to seek out an expert for a second opinion on stem cell therapy for autism. If she had, she would have learned that people with autism do not have “damaged tissue”.

Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, a general practitioner and father to a child with autism, coverered this ground in Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion:

In summer 2007 a review article entitled ‘Stem cell therapy for autism’ was published in an obscure journal, stimulating a flurry of international publicity (Ichim et al 2007). The authors, based in a biotech company in Arizona and in a clinic in Costa Rica, propose treating autistic children with a combination of stem cells derived from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood cells. Before long reports appeared in the US press that children with autism were being brought by their parents to Mexico and China to get stem cell treatments (which are illegal in the USA – and Britain) at enormous expense. Another autism treatment craze was underway.

The stem cell craze has all the familiar features of the treatment fads that have afflicted the world of autism, with many of the distinctive characteristics of the biomedical approach. The promise that stem cells, cells which retain the primitive capacity to divide and differentiate into specialised cell types, will deliver treatments for hitherto intractable diseases has beguiled medical science for decades. Though there have been some achievements, such as the use of bone marrow stem cells in the form of ‘transplants’ to treat leukaemia, progress has been slow and the clinical yield disappointing. The theoretically more promising – and more controversial – area of embryonic stem cell research has so far produced no clinical benefits. While serious research continues, entrepreneurs have promoted stem cell treatments for a wide range of conditions, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and many more, far in advance of any rational therapeutics. The quest by biotech companies for a wider market for stem cells has led them to take a growing interest in treating autism.

There is no coherent scientific rationale for stem cell treatment in autism, though Thomas Ichim and his colleagues attempt to provide one – or at least they disguise its absence with a barrage of quasi-scientific jargon accompanied by hundreds of references. They speculate that autism is caused by ‘neural hypoperfusion’ and associated with ‘immune dysregulation’ and chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal and central nervous systems. They claim that stem cells and cord blood can stimulate new blood vessel formation (‘angiogenesis’ – biomedics prefer Latin) and correct the immune and inflammatory problems. But there is no good evidence of a deficient blood supply to the brain in autism, nor any consistent pattern of immune dysfunction. It is scarcely necessary to add that there is no evidence whatever that stem cell treatment is effective in autism – or that it is safe.

Following secretin, the pancreatic hormone that was hailed as a wonder cure in 1998, and before that holding therapy, facilitated communication and auditory integration therapy, stem cell treatment will attract desperate parents and, inevitably, lead them and their children to disappointment (Fitzpatrick 2004: 78-84).

One of the many problems with putting stem cells into someone after they have developed organs is that the signals necessary to direct organ creation have been turned off. The bio-medical entrepreneurs in Costa Rica are hoping that the stem cells will somehow get enough signal to develop properly and not – for instance – start making liver cells in the middle of young Kenneth’s brain.

Isn’t that worth mentioning?

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44 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Whatsherface? // Jul 9, 2009 at 7:02 am

    ‘making liver cells in the middle of young Kenneth’s brain’

    If that does happen, they’ll probably deny the resulting brain damage and just say that they’re ‘curing’ him by cleaning out the toxins in his brain.

    Then we’ll have another dangerous cure fad on our hands. *sigh*

  • 2 Squillo // Jul 9, 2009 at 8:06 am

    “Unsatisfied with mere great results, the Kellys will now expose their son to a third-world alternative medical clinic, and a treatment that is not only unproven, but potentially dangerous”

    Which makes me wonder, what are these Warrior Mothers really at war with?

  • 3 Aspergermom // Jul 9, 2009 at 8:49 am

    I recent the term Warrior Mother associated with all this nonsense. I am a warrior mother who evey day supported my children with proper medication, therapy and educational support to produce wonderful results and I still fight the good fight. I never endangered my child’s health nor went after a fad or expected a quick fix.Do not apply this term to these people. It is insulting to the rest of us.

  • 4 kathleen // Jul 9, 2009 at 9:06 am

    “Warrior mothers hold a special power over news reporters”
    That is the very sad truth. Perceived tragedy sells..unfortunately, many many people have the perception that autism is a tragedy that needs to be “cured” at any cost-so they are afraid to argue with the “victim” a.k.a. warrior mother. Scary isn’t it-autism has become a “thing”..it seems to be forgotten that there are people involved.Human beings.

  • 5 Prometheus // Jul 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I read the Ichim et al article when it came out and again just now. It is a “what if” article – long on supposition and short (as in “zero”) on data supporting their hypothesis.

    In addition, the authors assume several “facts not in evidence”, such as their claim (repeated from others) that autism is caused by “neural hypoperfusion” – a claim not supported by data. Given that their model of what causes autism is so obviously flawed, it seems unlikely that their proposed “therapy” will be effective.

    If they are lucky, the autistic children going to Costa Rica, Panama and elsewhere to get “stem cell therapy” will in fact receive nothing more than some of their skin fibroblasts supended in saline solution or an amino acid mix. That is the best case scenario.

    If these children are unlucky, they will receive either allograft (“donated” by someone else) embryonic stem cells or – possibly worse – they will have their own cells treated to become induced pluripotent stem cells. Either way, they would be running a serious risk of devastating consequences.

    This is doubly tragic because there is no data that would suggest that stem cell therapy could do anything (positive) for autism. Since the physiological/anatomical cause of autism is unknown, giving stem cells is no more sensible than walking into a pharmacy and grabbing some pills from the shelves at random.

    I’m also curious that Kenneth’s parents tried HBOT with “great results” and yet now feel compelled to try stem cell therapy. Either the HBOT didn’t work as “great” as they remembered or Kenneth was much more disabled prior to HBOT. Or there is another explanation.

    I suspect that HBOT “worked” for a while and then “stopped working” and Kenneth “regressed”. I also suspect that the Kellys will find that stem cell therapy also “works” for a while and then “stops working”. This is the hallmark of the placebo effect.

    Of course, since they can’t buy a “stem cell machine”, they’ll have to go back to Costa Rica to get another “round” of treatment. And the owners of the clinic will buy another boat or house or sports car.

    If Kenneth and all of the other people who go to this “clinic” are getting real stem cells, they should have their health closely monitored for the rest of their lives. Induced pluripotent stem cells (unless they are made using the miRNA technique of Blelloch, which is still in the developmental stage) have the potential to become cancers later (or much sooner) in life.

    A question that comes to my mind is this: Is there any risk that is too great for the “Warrior Mothers” (and “Warrior Fathers”) to take with their autistic children? Or do they see their autistic child as such a liability that they would rather have them dead than remain autistic?

    I don’t have answers to these questions, but maybe one of the “biomed Warrior Mothers” does.

    Prometheus

  • 6 findacure // Jul 11, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    All of you should be ashamed. It’s very easy for you to sit there behind your computer screens and criticize her for the lengths she is going to for her son. How do you think new cures are found? Do any of you take medicines, or have you ever had any sort of surgery? All things are new and unsure at first, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t work or that they are not safe. I wouldn’t doubt that she would be proud to be called ‘Warrior Mother’ because that’s what all mothers SHOULD be; fighting for their children. Autism is becoming so prevalent and I think it is high time we all start looking for the cause, and try to find a cure.

  • 7 Chris // Jul 12, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Finding a cure is not done by blindly trying every insane idea that is offered.

    First there has to be plausibility. Sure, I have taken medicines, but they have been through several trials starting with in vitro, then in vivo in animals and then a few years of testing on humans.

    Not by, “Oh, this might work, let’s try it.”

    Actually, “findacure” you should be ashamed by giving credence to the quacks who prey on desperate parents. “Fighting” for one’s child should not mean looking for miracles in a bottle or in some overseas clinic (by the way, I’ve been to Costa Rica, it is a pretty modern country, at least compared to a couple of its neighbors to the north).

    In the case of “been there, done that” a “warrior mother” gets more done by making sure the child gets to all their speech and OT/PT therapy appointments, and actually attends the IEP meetings and is willing to love and work with the child at home. I was fortunate that I lived near enough to our regional Children’s Hospital to take advantage of their educational resources which ranged from a library (where I researched development, and ear tubes), seminars and a nurse I could call on the phone for questions.

  • 8 Fed UP! // Jul 15, 2009 at 9:05 am

    “Findacure” — save your drama and accept your share of shame. The current environment only makes it all the easier for scam artists to take advantage of desperate parents.

    As a special ed teacher and a parent of an autistic 11 year old, I’ve seen the damage that your attitude causes.

    It just seems everyone gets their information from 30 second snippets picked up as they flip channels on TV! More serious research on your part would assure that your response here would be different — and infinitely more helpful.

  • 9 AutismNewsBeat // Jul 15, 2009 at 11:32 am

    “As a special ed teacher and a parent of an autistic 11 year old, I’ve seen the damage that your attitude causes. ”

    Interesting. Are you talking about quack treatments and unnecessary financial burdens placed on families? Or more along the lines of psychological / emotional damages? As the father of a 13-year-old with PDD-NOS, I’ve long understood that the “anti-vaccine/ defeat autism” mentality wasn’t helping kids. I’ve assumed that it was also damaging families and relationships, but my suspicions are mostly confined to the abstract.

  • 10 findacure // Jul 16, 2009 at 4:19 am

    You have no idea the research I have done on this topic, and have no right to assume it has been from a 30 second snippet on TV. On top of reading every morsel of information I can find on this topic (both sides) I have spoken to a scientist who has nothing to do with autism and adult stem cells, but still has knowledge about adult stem cell transplants and he said that the worst that would happen is it would not work. I wasn’t trying to bring any “drama” it was just another opinion from someone who HAS done the research and admittedly does not know it all, but if I were in the same situation I would feel comfortable with this procedure. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That’s the beauty of freedom we’re all able to do the research and decide for ourselves, and if you have done the research (which I encourage you to do before you reply) and it still seems too scary then that’s your right as a parent.

  • 11 Chris // Jul 16, 2009 at 10:06 am

    It does not matter what research you have done if you do not understand the difference between real and bogus information.

  • 12 AutismNewsBeat // Jul 16, 2009 at 10:35 am

    The point of my post is that WABI neglected to present both sides. I emailed the station’s news director about this matter, but so far they haven’t responded.

  • 13 FedUP! // Jul 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    “Findacure” — there are no two sides to the vaccine issue from a serious research standpoint. In terms of knowing about autism — I don’t profess to be an expert, though I feel that I’ve made myself well informed. Stem cells are another media “magic” favorite. I can see why you would find them attractive — after all, they couldn’t hurt! You are clueless. (and yes, I did take the time to follow your “research”)

    ANB — sorry to fill your board with such rampant cynicism. Yes — the search for the holy grail has a big financial toll (100’s of thousands) but the psychological / emotional damage is the worst. Imagine someone (much like our poster above) suggesting that a parent should do anything to help their child, and then imagine a world where you could spent infinite dollars pursuing therapies advertised as “cure”. How poor and tired should our family be to prove we really love our kid? It is a situation that only leads to despair. But it makes for great TV and news stories.

    Personally, I’ve tried to avoid the whirlpool of guilt, but I’ve sucked in a time or two.

    For parents I work with, for some, focus on the “cures” sometimes keeps them from making the best of what they have — trying to work on behaviors / communication / social skills, etc. The “cure” feeling keeps them living in the present — day to day — rather than thinking of long term gains.

    I don’t see many anti-vaccine parents (though it might reflect the population age I serve — middle school) Most are focused on their own kids — and trying to get by.

    Lots and lots of the general populace want to talk to me about “anti vaccine” and how my son shows that is is “high time” to do something about this autism. If it is a good day (or my boss is saying it) I am polite and talk positively about vaccines and their impacts on children’s health. If it is not such a good day, I probably will tell them to “Go %&#* off!”

  • 14 Chris // Jul 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    In my opinion the effective mothers (and fathers, and sometimes other guardians like grandparents or adoptive parents) are the ones that work with special ed. staff like “fedUP!”, not against them.

    My son would not even attempt speech until he entered a special ed. program where there were kids just like him, and the special ed. staff worked as a team. This was where the best progress was made, not with made up medical interventions.

  • 15 Prometheus // Jul 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    “Findacure” retorts:

    You have no idea the research I have done on this topic, and have no right to assume it has been from a 30 second snippet on TV. On top of reading every morsel of information I can find on this topic (both sides) I have spoken to a scientist who has nothing to do with autism and adult stem cells, but still has knowledge about adult stem cell transplants and he said that the worst that would happen is it would not work.

    Unfortunately, the “scientist” who “Findacure” consulted was misinformed. Although there haven’t been many adverse events from using stem cells in humans, that is largely due to the small numbers, not any inherent safety in stem cell transplantation.

    I suggest that “Findacure” read “Donor-Derived Brain Tumor Following Neural Stem Cell Transplantation in an Ataxia Telangiectasia Patient” [Amariglio et al (2009)] in PLOS Medicine. It is available free online.

    Given the small number of actual stem cell transplants that have been done, it is far too early to say “…the worst that would happen is it would not work.” In fact, that is clearly not true.

    Of course, it remains an open question whether the “stem cells” injected into autistic children – or patients with MS or other conditions treated at this clinic in Costa Rica – are viable or even stem cells. There seems to be a paucity of real information about just what is being done in this clinic.

    Again, given that nobody knows the problem (anatomical or physiological) in autism, it seems unrealistic (even magical) to suppose that injecting stem cells – of an unspecified type – is going to miraculously “cure” autism. And this assumes that actual, viable stem cells are being injected. It is equally likely (or more likely)that no viable stem cells are injected at all. In fact, it would be far safer (and probably equally effective) if the injection were merely saline solution.

    If the people at this clinic would provide some data to support their claims, I could get excited about this “treatment”. However, despite the publication of Ichim et al (2007 http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/5/1/30) two years ago and subsequent reports of “dozens”, “hundreds” or even “thousands” of autistic children helped, “recovered” or “cured”, no actual data has seen the light of day.

    Curious, that.

    Prometheus

  • 16 Thomas Ichim // Jul 19, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    With all respect, the paper we put forth was to stimulate research into this field. The fact that there were many references was to support the idea proposed.

    Instead of putting forward idea-stifling comments on a blog, I would recommend reading the paper carefully, and the references, and writing a letter to the editor of the journal. This way, if what we proposed was incorrect, new thoughts may come from the process.

    As for the stem cells not being stem cells, if I understood some of the previous comments, I would recommend the readers to see some of our other work on http://www.pubmed.com by searching my name “Ichim T”

    Best wishes

    Tom

  • 17 Patrick // Jul 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Glad to see that Prometheus mentioned/linked a paper which generated AP/National news coverage about tumors whose most likely cause were injected stem cells.

    I haven’t yet seen any serious discussion (or Studies/Papers) about how immature cells (bioproducts without guidance systems) happen to self guide, or make their way specifically to a repair site after injection in remote tissue locations.

  • 18 Prometheus // Jul 20, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Dr. Ichim,

    I realise that your paper on stem cell treatment for autism was a review meant to stimulate research. Unfortunately, there are a lot of “Google PhD’s” out there that don’t. It is to those people that I direct my comments.

    I am curious that you think the comments – or the post – were “idea-stifling”. Surely, they haven’t stifled your ideas, have they?

    I’m always a bit suspicious of people who object to the free and open (and often irreverant) discussion of their work. Don’t you want people to critique your ideas? Or have you found “The Truth” and are no longer open to new information?

    Your rather credulous acceptance of the “hypoperfusion” and “autoimmune” hypotheses of autism remain an unanswered point of criticism, as is your clear “conflict of interest” as CEO of a company that makes (and sells?) stem cells. While I’m not usually a big believer in the corrupting influence of conflicts of interest, it needs addressing.

    My comment about the stem cells being stem cells does not refer to your techniques – which appear to be valid – but to the application of these techniques in clinics. I would be most interested to see some of the clinical data – which you allude to in your 2007 paper – published. Has it been published and if so, where?

    Prometheus

  • 19 Thomas Ichim // Jul 21, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Dear Patrick,

    Great question. Immature stem cells have receptors called CXCR-4, which recognized SDF-1, generated by hypoxic tissue…this is one of several ways in which undifferentiated stem cells selectively find their way to areas of need…there are a couple of videos in which I discuss this on http://www.youtube.com/cellmedicine

    also is you go to http://www.pubmed.com and look up “stem cell” and “mobilization” you can find some interesting work published on this

    yes fetal stem cells seem to be carcinogenic, that is why Medistem only sticks to adult stem cells

  • 20 Thomas Ichim // Jul 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Dear Patrick,

    Thank you for your comments. Only through discussion, critizism, and skepticism does science and human knowledge progress….you are correct

    The points about autoimmune-like inflammation in autism are supported by several of the references in the paper, no? If you are curious i can dig them up and email to you… my email is thomas.ichim@gmail.com

    No one knows exactly all the processes in autism, and anyone who tells you they have a cure is lying…the work described is baby steps….some patients have effects, some dont, worse thing to do is offer false hopes or raise expectations….

    About conflict of interest, of course i have a conflict of interest ! thats why I beg people to “proof me wrong” by writing up the opposite perspective, or attacking the publication in a professional format through a letter to the editor of the journal….this type of conversation, with references and facts, is productive

    shoot me an email and ill keep you posted on status of upcoming publications by us in this area

    best wishes and thanks for caring about this important cause

    Tom

  • 21 autblog // Jul 22, 2009 at 6:02 am

    Dr. Ichim,

    Thanks for visiting ANB. Could you expand on your comment that anybody who says they can cure autism is lying? Specifically, do you believe “recovery” from autism is possible? What is your opinion of Hollywood celebrities and others who claim autism can be prevented? Do you believe chelation and HBO are promising treatments for autism? Finally, do you accept the evidence against the purported vaccine-autism link?

    Thank you.

  • 22 Prometheus // Jul 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Dr. Ichim,

    I find it curious that you ask people to prove you wrong when you haven’t given any data to suggest that you are “right”.

    Do you have any data from the hundreds (as of 2007) of people who have received your stem cells? If so, where is it published? If not, why not?

    Prometheus

  • 23 Thomas Ichim // Jul 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Dear Autblog,

    Perhaps I should not be blogging in the middle of the night when i can get a little emotional with my statements.

    The idea is that autism is a multi-factorial set of diseases…my comment was more to the point that there are no “wonder drugs” that work for everyone.

    I believe that in some patient subsets hyperbaric oxygen may be beneficial. The issue is that clinical trials are currently being performed in this by others so we eagerly await the data.

    Of course recovery is possible, but because there are so many descriptions of autism, and different disease subsets, it is impossible to state that a magic bullet exists.

    There could be some evidence that autism is preventable. We need to figure out in a scientific manner what seems to work and what does not.

    Hope this helps

    Tom

  • 24 Thomas Ichim // Jul 22, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Dear Prometheus,

    I really dont understand your points….in the beginning you (or someone) attacked the article I was lead author on….so i said if you will write stuff in blogs to attack it….then go to the library, spend a bit of time, and write a professional attack on the science as a letter to the editor of the journal…that way there can be some real dialogue.

    I am not trying to sell anyone on anything…did you see our other papers we pbulished on patient data? go to http://www.pubmed.com and search my name “Ichim t” and you will see a couple

  • 25 Prometheus // Jul 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Dr. Ichim,

    I take it that you contest my characterisation of your 2007 article as a “what if” article? Did you have data showing that stem cell therapy – of any type – was (not might be) beneficial in autism? Did I miss that? You made an oblique reference to hundreds of patients treated – were these all MS patients? Were none of them patients with autism?

    I’ve also read your case reports, but I wasn’t able to find any about autism. Did I miss the case reports of stem cell treatment for autism? Still, your own characterisation of your results was that they only showed the safety of stem cell therapy (for MS), not the efficacy.

    Again, I may have missed one or two of your publications. If I have, please direct me to the one(s) that had a placebo control (citations are helpful, but a journal title and month should ensure that we’re both talking about the same article). Multiple sclerosis is infamous for its relapsing-remitting behavior, so proper controls will be essential to showing any real efficacy.

    Another concern I have is that you seem to think that you have “proven” something in your review paper about stem cell therapy for autism (Ichim et al 2007) that I should be willing to “prove wrong”. In fact, you “proved” nothing, as you had no data. I don’t have to “prove you wrong” as you haven’t yet “proved” yourself right.

    There have been a number of parents in the US who have taken their children to Costa Rica for stem cell treatment for their autism – apparently by one of your past collaborators. Surely there must be some data out of these trials, no? Even a small pilot study – properly controlled, since autism is also infamous for its sudden busrts of improvement – would do more to quiet the skeptics than reams of speculation.

    Prometheus

  • 26 Chris // Jul 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Promethesus:

    Again, I may have missed one or two of your publications. If I have, please direct me to the one(s) that had a placebo control (citations are helpful, but a journal title and month should ensure that we’re both talking about the same article).

    So I am not the only who thought it was strange that he did not post the particular paper, but instead directed us to search PubMed?

    Way to have confidence in your own research! [/sarcasm]

  • 27 Thomas Ichim // Jul 24, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Dear Promethus

    Thank you for your comments and feedback.

    Promethus, I agree 100% that the paper we published is a “what if” paper.

    I also agree with you that the only way to scientific truth with something as complex as autism is through double-blind, placebo controlled trials.

    If you think about it, the placebo effect can be HUGE when people are being treated with stem cells, given all of the “programming” people get hearing about stem cells on the news all the time.

    I was a little offended when I read some of the comments that the hypothesis we put forward was being attacked…thats why against the advice of my colleagues…i thought it was best to voice my opinion, which was, we put forward an idea and to our knowledge the IDEA had some scientific merit. But it was just an “idea” as you pointed out.

    The “idea” seemed to make sense, and also the “idea” was used by our collaborators to attain some positive results in patients with autism.

    Unfortunately, as you and I both know, medical research and scientific breakthroughs take a lot of time, clinical trials, and raw data.

    Unfortunately, while there are a couple of cases that had substantial improvement, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials have not been performed.

    So you are 100% correct in your line of questioning….once the data on patients that have been treated is compiled, it will be published.

    Then the next step is to do double blind trials. The FDA has a lot of wisdom in having generated the registration process for therapeutics the way that it has.

    I agree with what you are saying Prometheus, and I have to emphasis that no one in Central America, or any of our collaborators are stating that stem cell therapy is a “cure” for autism. If any comments along these lines are made, please inform me because this is not tolerated.

    We know that certain types of autistic patients have certain manifestations that the stem cell protocols may have a positive effect on….however there are many questions out there that answers simply do not exist.

    We will make sure to update you on our publications and progress.

    Thank you for your interest in seeking a cure for this.

    Best wishes

    Tom

  • 28 Thomas Ichim // Jul 24, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Chris I find your comment offensive….i directed you to search medistem’s work on pubmed so that you may see some of the work that we are engaged in.

    What papers did you want me to direct you to??? I stated, there was a paper we published on multiple sclerosis patients (efficacy paper with fat stem cells)…there was a paper we published on safety of a new type of stem cells…there was a paper we published on heart failur recovery after stem cells…and there are a whole bunch more other papers.

    I can tell you right now that no one is discussing stem cells as a “magic cure” for all autistic patients.

  • 29 Emiliano Rappoport // Jul 24, 2009 at 7:37 am

    take a pill tom, dont get so easily offended….go make a youtube video or something :)

  • 30 HCN // Jul 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Either grow a spine or get off of the internet. Some of us actually find things like this a badge of honor:
    http://www.whale.to/a/hcn_.html

  • 31 Prometheus // Jul 24, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Dr. Ichim,

    There are most definitely people saying that stem cells are a “cure” for autism. See:

    http://www.wabi.tv/news/6583/bangor-family-heads-to-costa-rica-for-adult-stem-cell-therapy

    http://www.wesh.com/news/15257790/detail.html

    http://cameronsjourney.blogspot.com/2009/01/stem-cell-final-piece-of-autism-puzzle.html

    This may have nothing to do with you or your company and may not even involve your collaborators. Nevertheless, it would be in your best interest to investigate who is doing this and what they are doing. To be sure, they are all citing your 2007 paper.

    Prometheus

  • 32 Chris // Jul 24, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Okay, you are offended because it was noted that we were supposed to find a paper out of the several you have indexed at PubMed (yes I looked). Big deal. Have you ever been to Prometheus’s blog? Check out what he deals with:
    http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=174&cpage=1#comment-25167

  • 33 Prometheus // Jul 28, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Emiliano,

    Was that Dr. Ichim on the YouTube videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/cellmedicine) about stem cell therapies? I couldn’t tell, as the “talking head” never introduced himself.

    Prometheus

  • 34 Emiliano Rappoport // Jul 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Yes thats him…i dont know about you but i find his accent annoying…

  • 35 Ron Peckaski // Jul 30, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Yes, why would someone with an accent like that go and put videos up on youtube…they sound like crap !

  • 36 Chris // Jul 30, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Be careful folks! You might offend Tom!

  • 37 Prometheus // Jul 30, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I don’t mind the accent – I’m sure I have a much worse one when I speak German – so much as the idea of “pitching” stem cell therapy on YouTube.

    The “benefits” of stem cell therapy for autoimmune disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis) and coronary artery disease are still being evaluated – the “benefits” for autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, etc. haven’t even been studied yet. But this doesn’t stop Dr. Ichim, who is clearly “pitching” adult stem cell therapy to the public in advance of the data. I have to ask myself, “Why is he doing this?”

    Generally, when scientists try to appeal directly to the public, bypassing even the modest “filter” of peer-review, it usually means that their data is weak (or non-existent) and they hope to “win support” through an emotional appeal. Frankly, I doubt that one in twenty people who have viewed Dr. Ichim’s videos have a firm grasp of the issues surrounding even adult stem cells.

    I’m concerned the “average person” will see the video, hear the “sciency” words and see the diagrams and think, “Well, this fellow sounds like he knows what he’s talking about!” Those that have conditions that Dr. Ichim suggests might benefit from stem cell therapy will want to “give it a go” without understanding a thing about the therapy, its risks and its liklihood of benefit.

    I’m also a bit puzzled by his failure to identify himself on the videos. It may be a simple oversight – one repeated in all six videos I forced myself to watch – or it may be an attempt to side-step the “conflict of interest” issue, which generally is more important to a “lay” audience than to a scientific audience.

    No matter what you think of stem cell therapy, these videos look – and smell – like “infommercials”.

    A few months ago, a friend of mine – who has long been involved in non-medical stem cell research – told me:

    “Stem cells are the medical therapy of the future – and always will be!”

    Something to think about.

    Prometheus

  • 38 Emiliano Rappoport // Jul 31, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    well the videos look like @#$# but you cant say he is pitching anything on them

    its just chatting about people’s data

    I agree that he should not be putting up videos on the internet, no one understands the science or the accent !!!

  • 39 Ron Peckaski // Aug 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I agree that he should not be putting up videos.

    The videos are retarded and so is he. Why would anyone care about some useless info? If he was a real scientist he would publish his work not on facebook but in medical journals

  • 40 Chris // Aug 1, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Actually he has published in real medical journals, but for some strange reason he wants us to look up his name on PubMed instead of telling us exactly which article he wants us to look at.

    By the way, he is not “retarded.” That is a word that is offensive (remember, this blog is about perceptions and issues with autism… and for decades our children were considered “retarded” because they could not talk, but fortunately that has changed). He is an intelligent scientist, though he seems a bit clueless with this whole communication thing.

    He apparently needs to focus on what he is researching, and try not to over reach to the disorder of the year. This disorder could be autism this year, and perhaps Alzheimer’s next year. Maybe cerebral palsy will rise again as the disorder of the year.

  • 41 Pamela Ramos // Aug 24, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I read your conversation with interest and perhaps a bit of disbelief. Dr. Thomas Ichim is a founder of 3 companies, sits on the board of venture capital firms like Vendevia, publishes extensively and somehow finds the time to make educational videos.

    Instead of being happy that people are devoting time to studying autism and proposing new theories, you call him “retarded”. Or you call him “clueless”

    you should all be ashamed.

    You know they say that you can tell a genius by the number of arrows he has on his back

    Best wishes

    Pamela Ramos

  • 42 Ron Peckaski // Aug 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    thats a pretty lame comment

    “You know they say that you can tell a genius by the number of arrows he has on his back”

  • 43 AutismNewsBeat // Aug 25, 2009 at 9:26 am

    They laughed at Galileo
    They laughed at Einstein
    They laughed at Salk

    But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. You don’t have to be a genius to be ridiculed. In most cases, just being ridiculous suffices.

  • 44 Thomas Ichim // Dec 25, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    how ironic…now FDA approved clinical trials for stem cells in autism…good thing medistem filed the patents on this

    http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01638819

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