foetal lamb cells for autism? baaaah!

Orac posts a fair bit on various quack ‘treatments’ – some, like the use of so-called Miracle Mineral Solution (aka industrial bleach) for just about anything that ails you – are quite dreadful in their potential to do harm. (MMS’s latest outing was as a ‘treatment’ for autism – used as an enema!) One recent post caught my eye as I was looking for new ‘critical thinking’ material for the Scholarship Biology preparation days that I run, & I ended up sharing it with teachers at the teachers’ evening we ran last Friday.

Behold the wonder that is ‘Fresh Cell Therapy’!

Fresh Cell Therapy [is] a biological treatment by which specially selected fresh or live cells or cell extracts of donor animals, usually sheep, are injected into the human body for treatment of various ailments or rejuvenation purpose.

The procedure uses fresh cells from the fetus of a lamb…

… and it’s described (in this news story) as "the mother of all stem cell treatments" by Dr Huertgen, the director of the German clinic offering this ‘therapy’ to those desperate enough, or gullible enough to pay for it (& it will cost them – around $15,000 per procedure, including flights & accommodation). For that price it had better be good! So let’s have a look at what’s involved, according to Dr Huertgen.

The immune system of the body serves as the "communicator" which delivers the cells to the organs and tissues that need rebuilding.

This is unlikely in the extreme. All that’s going to happen is that the immune system of the injected individual will recognise those lamb cells as what they are, foreign tissue, & destroy the lot of them. 

Unlike autologous stem cell transplant, in which blood-forming stem cells are removed, stored, and later given back to the same person, fresh cell therapy is non-invasive and is only injected to the body.

This really cracked the teachers up (and I nearly spilled my tea on the keyboard when I first saw it) – sticking a needle in someone is ‘non-invasive’?

As one of Orac’s commenters noted, one of the strange things about all this is that a subset of those who claim that vaccines cause autism, include in their list of Bad Ingredients the fact that said vaccines supposedly contain animal cells. Yet here we have a ‘treatment’ that involves deliberate injections of animal cells. Sorry, can’t get my head around that one.

It is also organ-specific, unlike most stem cell treatments. They inject cells that are harvested in a specific organ that will help rebuild the same organ of the patient.

Always supposing the patient’s immune system somehow failed to destroy the lamb cells, how on earth would they know where to deliver them? And how? Yet Dr Huertgen describes fresh cell therapy as "the only cell therapy that is able to choose the [specific] organ" in need of rebuilding.

More seriously: when ‘treating’ children with autism, he is presumably using the brains of foetal lambs. Sheep carry scrapie. Prions – the agents of scrapie infection (& of other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) – don’t appear to be destroyed by an infected animal’s immune system. Has this man really thought about what he’s doing?

I rather think the answer is ‘no’.

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