Monday, June 15, 2009

Risks in Embryonic Stem Cell Clincial Trials: Spinal Injury Patients Use Caution

(caption: picture of a teratoma, a type of cancer associated with human embryonic stem cells)

I would highly advise those families who have a loved one facing the difficult and tragic situation of incurring a spinal chord injury, to use caution if asked to enter Geron’s human embryonic stem cell clinical trial. Families and patients should seek both objective and independent scientific and legal counsel before giving signed consent to participate.

Clinical trials are dangerous, especially clinical trials involving new technologies such as human embryonic stem cells. Patients may be taking on more than they bargained for since research institutions often hide the dangers associated with human embryonic stem cell research, leaving the public ignorant of the real risks.

Make sure that the independent experts you choose to counsel with have no conflicts of interest with Geron, which unfortunately is sometimes hard to determine. Ask them if they, their colleagues or institution are obtaining any monetary incentives regarding promoting the Geron trial. If they are, seek other advice.

Although it may seem difficult under your dire circumstances, do not allow the physicians involved to alarm you into making a decision too quickly. Read the informed consent document thoroughly. Let your attorney read it. Make sure you understand every sentence in the informed consent contract.

Do not underestimate the risks noted in the consent form…even if they are written in small print or appear innocuous. You should have a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts and risks involved. You should know that cancer and autoimmune disorders are real risks implicated with this trial.

Keep in mind that this is a SAFETY trial for the use of human embryonic stem cells and not an efficacy trial. It is being performed to determine if this embryonic stem cell treatment will harm humans. The trial has not been designed to cure you.

Geron’s human embryonic stem cell is a dangerous trial, the safety outcome of which is not only measured within the initial months, but also, decades later.

Contact me if you have any further questions at

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