August 21, 2011 in Nation/World

Perry’s stem cell surgery sparks concern among doctors

 

 Like many conservatives, Texas Gov. Rick Perry opposes research on embryonic pluripotent stem cells.

 But the presidential candidate apparently has an open mind toward therapies developed using adult stem cells, which can be collected from a patient’s own body.

 So open, in fact, that on July 1 he apparently received experimental stem cell surgery on his back. In the procedure, doctors removed some of Perry’s fat cells, cultured them in a laboratory and then injected them back into his spine and bloodstream. The procedure seems to have been intended to build bone to fix a bad back.

 Some think stem cells isolated from fat could someday be used to generate soft tissue and bone and perhaps even help in the treatment of ailments such as heart disease. But today such treatments often have not been thoroughly vetted by researchers or approved by the FDA, and last week physicians expressed concern about Perry’s operation.

 On Friday, an Associated Press report collected a few of their comments.

 Dr. George Muschler, an orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic, said that fat-derived stem cells were “an unusual choice … quite controversial because there isn’t good evidence yet, at least in the medical literature, that fat cells work better or even work at all in repairing bones.”

 Dr. George Q. Daley, a past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, worried that the governor might be setting the wrong example for ailing patients: “As a highly influential person of power, Perry’s actions have the unfortunate potential to push desperate patients into the clinics of quacks,” who are selling unproven treatments “for everything from Alzheimer’s to autism.”

 Whether stem cells derived from fat will be the solution for Perry remains to be seen. So far, a spokesman said, he is recovering well.

Los Angeles Times


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