As stem cells come to center stage as likely tools for novel approaches to medicine, governments and the private sector alike demand short-term return of their investment in R&D in the guise of marketable products. In a financial rather than industrial business model, the approach itself, or the hope itself (rather than a tangible object such as an effective therapy) selleck products become the marketed commodity . The marketing of immature approaches to therapies [ and ] then generates societal, medical and scientific issues. The societal issues are exemplified by the frequent use of “MSCs” in the despicable “stem cell tourism” around the world , and by the push to legalize their marketing ahead of any proof of efficacy
; medical issues, by the resurgence, particularly among some academic physicians, of a prescientific empirical approach to medicine, which had taken centuries to overcome . At this time, almost 400 underpowered clinical trials around the World, mostly in the East and
the Caribbean, use intravenous MSCs in patients with severe diseases that are not only without a cure, but also without a chance of being cured by intravenous infusions of MSCs. Scientific issues, lastly, are exemplified by the diffusion of scientifically feeble and medically ungrounded notions, which permeate a vast scientific literature and do not spare even the most prestigious venues for publication. Bone stem cells (“MSCs”) cannot cure autism or stroke as claimed. LBH589 History records major examples of how ideology (religious or political) can disseminate non-scientific misbeliefs and hold them in the face of, or against, scientific evidence. The power of rising commercial interests to do the same is a novelty of this stretch of history. At a glance, it seems to contradict the historical alliance of economic development and rigorous science as a source of technology, medical technology included. In economics, however, it is a known fact (Gresham’s law) that “bad money drives the good one out”. The history of stem cells in bone is deeply intertwined with the
history of the world over the last Cyclooxygenase (COX) 70 years. Between 1945 and 1980s, it provides the most impressive example of how the paradigm of the time, sculpting a strategic role of science and of its public funding, worked productively: bone marrow transplantation, hematopoietic stem cells, and skeletal stem cells are all the legacy of those decades, and of the post-War view of science and medicine in society. Between the 1980s and present day, a “historical” look at stem cells in bone gives a glimpse on the effects on science and science policies of changing commercial interests, which tend to replace and displace a strategic (beyond the military sense) role for science in society in peacetime. Still, the history of stem cells in bone is replenished, throughout the 70 years, with major intellectual, scientific and medical advances.