Perry brings Texas stem-cell cause to Houston

Gov. Rick Perry pushed Friday for Texas to become the center of adult stem-cell therapy, disregarding the federal government's increasing crackdown on clinics marketing the experimental medicine.

Perry told a crowd of stem-cell researchers, industry leaders and patients gathered in Houston that the young science "holds the promise of miracles" desperately needed by people across the world and suggested Texas' "wildcat spirit" and "conducive climate" can make it happen here.

"I'm not shy about asking people to relocate or start up their companies in Texas," said Perry, likening stem-cell treatment to previous innovations in space and heart care. "All of you outside the state of Texas - come on in. The water's fine. We've got an amazing environment here."

Perry, who famously got the unlicensed treatment for an ailing back in 2011, said the state has made sure that innovators won't be "hindered by exorbitant taxes, wrapped up by bureaucratic red tape or at the mercy of predatory attorneys, seeking to make steady money off extensive, drawn-out court cases."

Perry's remarks, made at the first of a planned annual Houston conference, came as the state appears headed toward a collision with the Food and Drug Administration, which has begun stepping up action against businesses that treat patients with their own stem cells. Last month, it issued a warning letter to Celltex Therapeutics Corp., the largest facilitator of the therapy in the Houston area, saying the process it puts the cells through alters them and makes them a biologic drug. The letter said the therapy was thus under FDA jurisdiction.

Perry's position

The letter was delivered just a few months after the Texas Medical Board began implementing a policy allowing doctors to use stem cells banked at facilities such as Celltex as long as it's part of research overseen by a panel that reviews clinical trials for patient safety. The TMB said it was allowing stem-cell use because it couldn't wait on the FDA.

As a result of the FDA letter, Celltex is in the process of closing down its 2012 trials.

Perry told the media after his keynote address that he disagrees with the FDA's decision on Celltex. He said that therapy involving one's own stem cells should no more be regulated by the FDA than bone marrow transplants or in-vitro fertilization.

Stem cells are cells in the body that multiply to replenish dying cells. The basis of what's known as regenerative medicine because of their ability to grow new tissue and repair diseased or injured body parts, they are touted by some as the future of medicine.

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Perry brings Texas stem-cell cause to Houston

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