Over the past year, at least 17 people have been hospitalized after being injected with products made from umbilical cord blood, a little-known but fast-growing segment of the booming stem cell industry, according to state and federal health officials and patient reports. Sold as a miracle cure for a variety of intractable conditions, the injections have sickened people in five states, prompting new warnings from health officials about the risks of unproven stem cell treatments.
All but two of the illnesses have been linked to a single company: Liveyon of Yorba Linda, Calif.
After obtaining 10 unopened vials of Liveyon treatments from clinics in Texas and Florida where patients had fallen ill, the CDC report said, investigators found bacteria in eight of them. In the weeks since then, CDC officials said, they have obtained many more ReGen vials directly from Liveyon and found bacteria in a large proportion of them.
“We’re just the tip of the iceberg, and we’re the cleanest in the iceberg,” [Liveyon CEO John] Kosolcharoen said. “If anyone else knew what’s going on in this industry, they would roll over in their grave.”
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