Is it right to use stem cell therapies on patients with life-threatening or debilitating diseases for which there are a few cures, or none at all? Is it ethical? Is it illegal?
Those questions are at the heart of a brewing bioethics scandal implicating the Houston, Texas start-up biotech company, Celltex Therapeutics Corp., which is involved in Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s unregulated adult stem-cell operation last year.
In the latest development, a University of Minnesota bioethicist filed a complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration saying that by marketing unlicensed stem cell therapies, Celltex wasn’t complying with federal laws on stem cells and putting patients in grave danger. The complaint was filed on Feb. 21 but only reported in the press in mid-March.
Officially, Celltex’s main business is banking people’s stem cells for future reinjection in the event of disease or injury. But although the company hasn’t admitted it, there is growing evidence that it also markets stem cell treatments that haven’t been cleared by the FDA.