Lily Wythe is a teenaged girl with a deadly brainstem cancer whose case has made international news because of her family's crowdfunding to get her into a clinical trial. Should investigators be allowed to fund trials this way?
Investigators at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center reported the results of a trial of acupuncture for xerostomia (dry mouth) secondary to radiation therapy for head and neck cancers. It was a negative trial, but investigators still tried to spin it as positive, but with a twist. There was a large difference between results found at M.D. Anderson and the second site in China. What could be going on?
Libella Gene Therapeutics, LLC made the news last week for announcing a “pay-to-play” trial of its telomerase-based anti-aging gene therapy. What was shocking about the announcement was not that it was a “pay-to-play” trial, given that such trials have become all too common, but rather the price of enrollment: $1 million. Worse, the trial is being conducted in Colombia; the therapy doesn’t have the greatest preclinical justification; and it’s a phase 1 trial, which means it is only trial of safety, not efficacy. How can unethical and scientifically dubious trials like this be stopped?
The Lung Institute is more evidence that all for-profit stem cell clinics are predatory clinics selling snake oil. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. THEM. If there's an exception, I haven't found it yet.
Drs. Alberto Siller and Alberto Garcia are at it again at Clínica 0-19, peddling a dubious case series touting their DIPG treatment. Let's just say that it does not demonstrate that their treatment is better than existing treatments; i.e., not very good.
Professor Fabrizio Benedetti is the most famous and almost certainly also the most influential researcher investigating the physiology of placebo effects. In a recent commentary, he asks whether placebo research is fueling quackery, as quacks co-opt its results. The answer to that question is certainly yes. A better question is: How do supporters of science counter the placebo narrative promoted by quacks, in which placebos represent the “power of the mind to heal the body”?
Studies done in mice often fail to translate to humans very well. A new study shows why, in neuroscience at least, mouse studies frequently don't predict human results very well.
The ethics of pay-to-play clinical trials are a minefield. Last week the HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) stepped into that minefield. Are "pay-to-play" clinical trials ever ethically acceptable?
Stem cell therapies show great promise, but as yet the vast majority of that promise has not been validated in rigorous clinical trials. Unfortunately, for-profit stem cell clinics are running clinical trials that require patients to pay to be part of them ("pay-to-play"). These trials are not rigorous. Even more unfortunately, it appears that some universities are also running “pay-to-play” clinical trials that bear an uncomfortable resemblance to those run by for-profit clinics.
This week, JAMA Internal Medicine published a clinical trial purporting to find that acupuncture helps stable angina. Here's a hint: It doesn't. It's a bait-and-switch study that used "electroacupuncture" instead of acupuncture with poor blinding and lack of consideration of prior plausibility.