Advocacy group linked to stem cell industry asks medical board for less-strict rule

By Mary Ann Roser

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

An Austin-based group funded mainly by a company that develops stem cell therapies is petitioning the Texas Medical Board for a less-strict rule on adult stem cells an issue the board has struggled with for more than a year.

The board will hold a hearing April 13 on its proposed rule, which would require doctors to get informed consent from patients before performing a stem cell procedure as well as approval from an institutional review board.

Such boards review research to protect patients and are overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

At the meeting, the board must either adopt or pull down the much-revised rule, said Mari Robinson, executive director of the medical board.

The group, MedRebels Foundation, which seeks to raise awareness and educate the public about stem cells, will present its petition at the hearing. It has more than 2,500 signatures, many of them gathered near the company's Red River Street office during the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival, Executive Director Shay McBurney said Friday. The office space is provided by SpineSmith and its parent, Celling Biosciences, which develops products and therapies using a person's own adult stem cells.

The petition asks the board not to put any additional restrictions on adult stem cells that are obtained from a patient's own body, provided they are used in the same medical procedure and not extensively processed or grown outside the body, frozen or stored.

"We were pretty amazed at how many people came and signed our petition," McBurney said.

MedRebels hopes the medical board recognizes that there are different types of stem cells, unlike its proposed rule, which "would classify all stem cells in the same bucket," said Matthew Murphy, a senior scientist at Celling Biosciences who spoke on behalf of MedRebels.

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Advocacy group linked to stem cell industry asks medical board for less-strict rule

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