Update on VesCell and TheraVitae

While wandering the web, I bumped into an educational article on the continuing development and application of the VesCell therapy from TheraVitae in Thailand. I've noted this topic previously, both as an important advance in first generation regenerative medicine and in the context of the natural end result of costly, wasteful, useless regulation in the US. But take a look at the article:

Doctors in the United States at the University of Pittsburgh and the Texas Heart Institute, among others, also are conducting early stem-cell therapies to heal the heart, according to the National Institutes of Health clinical trials site.

"I would like to see randomized trials," comparing it with other established treatments for the heart, Schechtmann said. "Not immediately, but in the next three to five years, hopefully, we will see some significant discoveries."

Don Margolis, one of TheraVitae's founders, said the company has almost completed a clinical study, involving 24 patients, in which investigators are looking at ejection fractions -- a measure of how well the heart pumps -- and patients' stamina, as determined in a six-mile walk, to assess the therapy's success.

Because the last patient to enroll has not been followed out six months, he said, no data has been published yet.

"But overall, our success rate is 70 to 80 percent, as measured by how the patients themselves feel" after treatment, he said. "At least half feel markedly better; another 25 percent feel somewhat better or no worse; and 25 percent have little benefit."

I should note an example of a knee-jerk reaction from those used to the days in which US medical research led the world:

He also got a second opinion from another heart doctor in Brevard County, as well.

"He said, 'If it was worth anything, we would be doing it here,' " Strickland recalled.

If we permit socialism and regulation to continue to destroy the incentives for investment, research and quality in the US, we'll see far more examples of the best new development happening elsewhere. Alongside far more examples of folk in denial of that truth, no doubt.

Researchers will develop - are already in the process of developing - far better and more effective medical technologies than VesCell. But it's hard to commercialize and deploy better medicine with the weight of the FDA resting on your neck.

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If they have published nothing and nobody has watched them do it, what makes you so confident that their stuff works? It well known that a substantial fraction of patients report feeling better after a saline injection, if they think it is medicine.

Posted by: John Schloendorn at August 26th, 2006 8:42 AM

Ah, and for the record, similar therapies (hematopoietic stem cell injection into the failing heart, which secrete factors promoting regeneration but do not engraft) are in clinical use all over the USA.

Posted by: John Schloendorn at August 26th, 2006 8:46 AM

Can you point to commerically available therapies of this type in the US? i.e. go to a hospital, pay the price, get it done?

As I understood it, VesCell is the only autologous stem cell therapy presently commercially available - outside of trials - that is being approached with scientific rigor. i.e. discounting any groups in China and Russia who are very unlikely to ever publish and are practicing with little or no scientific rigor.

Posted by: Reason at August 26th, 2006 2:27 PM

what a wonderful thing this would be if only i could get it.

Posted by: edmund hersom at March 27th, 2007 9:39 AM
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