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Acell are experts on growing headlines-Finger story featured at Badscience.com


#1

It seems that Acell can regenerate (or simply generate) news articles. From a very small achievement, they are able to regenerate a full blown hype. In this regard, we can say that Acell’s ECM works wonders.

The story is old, but it is good to remember it now, in the context of the recent Hitzig’s “breakthroughs” using Acell.

http://www.badscience.net/2008/05/finger-bullshït/

in the link, replace “bullshït” with the correct word without little dots.

Badscience talks about this Acell “breakthrough”. Very interesting read.
Don’t miss the readers comments at the end too.

As you can see in the photo, only the tip of the last segment of the finger is affected. But Acell got the press to report something like a complete finger had been regrown. Look at the headlines:

The man who grew a finger
BBC News, UK - 6 hours ago
The “pixie dust” comes from the University of Pittsburgh, though in the lab Dr Stephen Badylak prefers to call it extra cellular matrix. …

Did a man grow his finger back?
guardian.co.uk, UK - 2 hours ago
The powder was mostly collagen and a variety of substances, without any pig cells, said Dr Stephen Badylak, a regeneration expert at the University of …

[Note: the above story magically changed to become sceptical at 4pm, approx two hours after this blog post was written. The original credulous version is no longer available.]

Pixie dust’ makes man’s severed finger
Times Online, UK - 5 hours ago
It is technically known as extra cellular matrix and was pioneered by Dr Stephen Badylak at the University of Pittsburgh. For ten days, Mr Spievak applied …

‘Pixie dust’ brings scientists closer to growing limbs
ABC Online, Australia - 3 hours ago
He says the powder came from Dr Stephen Badylak, a leading US expert in regenerative medicine. He is experimenting with cells extracted from pig intestines, …

‘Pixie dust’ helps man grow new finger
Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom - 18 hours ago
The inventor of the powder, Dr Stephen Badylak from the University of Pittsburgh, has pioneered a process which involves scraping cells from the lining of a …

Pig extract ‘helps fingers regrow’
The Press Association - 9 hours ago
The powder was mostly collagen and a variety of substances, without any pig cells, said Dr Stephen Badylak, a regeneration expert at the University of …

Man’s finger ‘regrown using pig extract’
ITN, UK - 3 hours ago
The powder was mostly collagen and a variety of substances, without any pig cells, said Dr Stephen Badylak, a regeneration expert at the University of …

‘Pixie dust’ made from pigs bladder has amazing power to regrow …
Daily Mail, UK - 17 hours ago
Dr Stephen Badylak (CORR), of the University of Pittsburgh, told the BBC, ‘There are all sorts of signals in the body. “We have got signals that are good …

Scientists create pixie dust to help re-grow lost fingers, limbs
Thaindian.com, Thailand - 6 hours ago
And that is a major step towards eventually doing an entire limb, The Sun quoted Chief researcher Stephen Badylak, as saying. (ANI)

Sliced finger grows back
The Sun, UK - 19 hours ago
Dr Stephen Badylak, from the lab where the substance has been produced, said: “I think that within ten years that we will have strategies that will re-grow …
<<<<<

also read:

Professor Stephen Kaye, a consultant plastic and hand surgeon at Leeds University, poured cold water on Dr Badylak’s claims.

Asked if he was surprised that Mr Spievack’s finger “grew back” he said: “Not in the slightest.”

Prof Kaye added: “The pictures I’ve seen on the web show a wound I would have expected to heal and regenerate in any case.

“The end of the finger is extremely good at regeneration. The pictures we’ve seen on the web show no evidence of loss of bone, nerve or tendon material, but regeneration and repair of skin – which is exactly what the fingertip does.”

He added that the photographs appeared to portray a “very commonplace transverse amputation of the very end of the fingertip” and not someone who had lost the last phalanx of his finger, as Dr Badylak claimed.

Prof Kaye said extra-cellular matrix was an acknowldged way of promoting wound healing, but pointed out that there was a “big difference” between healing and regeneration.

“I don’t want people to have false hopes,” he told the Radio 4’s The World Tonight news programme.


#2

Good article!
Note Dr. Badylak’s quotes.
Dr. Badylak (Acell) says that it was Lee Spievack who went to the press, and Acell apparently had no intention to make this public. Do we believe Mr. Badylack?

Dr. Badylak also says that the entire nail bed, and half the distal bone were cut off, in clear contradiction with the pictures. Do we believe Mr. Badylack?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/may/03/medicalresearch.health

The missing finger that never was

* Buzz up!
* Digg it (8)

* Ben Goldacre
* The Guardian, Saturday 3 May 2008
* Article history

Finger which grew back after ‘pixie dust’ treatment

Finger which grew back after ‘pixie dust’ treatment. Photograph: Lee Spievack/Al Behrman/AP

Traditionally on May Day the fool plays at pratfalls and buffoonery around local morris dancers, brandishing his fool’s bauble, an inflated pig’s bladder on a stick, with which he bewitches and controls the crowds. To the uninitiated it looks like chaos, but for his own safety the fool must know the dances as well as anyone, so that his weaving tomfoolery meshes perfectly with the intricate pattern of kicks, handkerchief waving, and stickbashing.

In the newspapers on May Day, meanwhile, journalists were earnestly reporting the news that pig’s bladder extract had been used by scientists in a major breakthrough allowing one man to magically regrow a finger. “‘Pixie dust’ helps man grow new finger,” squealed the Telegraph’s headline. “‘Pixie dust’ makes man’s severed finger regrow,” said the Times. “Made from dried pig’s bladder,” they explained, this magic powder “kick-starts the body’s healing process”.

Now firstly, if you look at the pictures accompanying this column, you will see from the “before” image that there is no missing finger, so we might naively intuit that there is no “missing finger grows back” story to be written. In fact, from the grainy images and scant descriptions available - despite blanket news media coverage, including television interviews - it seems this bloke lost about 3/8 of an inch of skin and flesh from the tip of his finger, and the nail bed is intact.

Make no mistake: I’d be whingeing a lot if it happened to me, but injured fingers do heal, sometimes badly, often nicely, just like gouges and scrapes on the rest of your body. “Nerves, tissue, blood vessel, skin” regrew, said the BBC. Yes. Up and down the country as we speak. The body is an amazing thing. If your experience of rollerskating injuries is not enough, Simon Kay, professor of hand surgery at the University of Leeds, saw the before-and-after pictures, and says: “It looked to have been an ordinary fingertip injury with quite unremarkable healing. This is junk science.”

Where did this miraculous story come from? Dr Badylak is the scientist quoted in all of these stories. He told me: “This story came to the media not through us, but rather through the patient. I would just as soon it had not gone out until we complete our pilot study.” That is unfortunate. I asked how this patient was recruited, what consent was obtained, how safety was assessed, whether this work has been published, and whether it will be published. He did not answer. Fair enough. He agrees that scepticism is understandable. I’m grateful.

The patient is Lee Spievack. He was given the powder by Acell, a large and longstanding biotech firm founded by Alan Spievack. He is Lee Spievack’s big brother. Dr Badylak is Acell’s chief scientific adviser, and he can be seen bravely making the best of all this unwelcome media attention by showing TV cameras around his labs and giving lengthy interviews, both now and in February 2008, when this story made the US news, and also, interestingly, in February of 2007, when it made the news for the first time, in exactly the same form, with exactly the same characters, and many identical quotes, verbatim, in the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC, and more. The injury itself, meanwhile, apparently happened (and healed) way back in 2005.

Reconstructing the media frenzy, it all seems to have kicked off - this time around - with BBC New York correspondent Matthew Price doing a very credulous set of interviews that went live on the BBC site on Wednesday at 3pm.

He nods endlessly and says “that’s astonishing” when the company founder’s little brother tells him that the tip of his finger healed. In the computer animation used by the BBC, a finger miraculously grows back more than half its length, at least two joints worth. At 11:30pm that same day the Press Association put out a story, but the newspapers must have had it sooner for the next day’s papers, so I guess they lifted it from the BBC, too. By May Day 3:30pm the story was on Fox news (their morning), and by 11:30pm it hit ABC Australia. All used the same quotes in different permutations. And that’s how news works.

Meanwhile, Dr Badylak now tells me that the entire nail bed was missing. This contradicts various previous news reports and apparently the pictures. He also says half the distal bone was missing. Confused? You should be. I’ve asked him for more pictures. I guess that just goes to show that the media is a confusing and inappropriate place to communicate new and unpublished epoch-making scientific breakthroughs (from 2005).

But we can console ourselves with the thought that one lucky company has had plenty of international media exposure. On three separate occasions. Over two years.

· Please send your bad science to bad.science@guardian.co.uk
<<<<<<


#3

The last time this board was in a tizzy over this junk, I provided a link to a REAL study that showed that fingertips can regrow themselves without the help of any sort of “pixie dust”. Of course the true believers paid no attention to what I posted.

It is amazing to me that we’re falling for this shyt all over again…


#4

It’s interesting that the Guardian article refers to Acell as “a large and longstanding biotech firm”.

Large? From the website it doesn’t really look that large. My guess is they have around 30-40 employees at the most.

Longstanding? Their press releases go back to 2004, with nothing on the site before that. Don’t know when they were founded, but it’s not likely that it was very long ago.

As for what they do, the granular “matrix” they provide probably does help a great deal with wound healing. Why? Because wound healing is a very complex process involving millions of microscopic cells and enzymes, e.g. fibroblasts and prostaglandins, platelets, Vitamin K, and a huge number of other types of cells and chemicals. They all invade the wound site and play different roles to close and heal the wound. Part of the wound closing process involves newly-created fibroblasts laying down their own cellular matrix around which other types of cells coalesce. Thus the fibroblasts are like a “natural matrix”. They aggregate at the edges of the wound, and other cells deposit themselves over, around and in-between the fibroblasts to create “new tissue”. This new tissue has some of the characteristics of the old tissue that was lost, but is not a perfect match (that’s why scar tissue looks different from the original tissue it replaced; scar tissue may look lighter in colour; seems not to have pores; and doesn’t grow hair. It’s a much more simplified version of the original skin.)

I believe that what Acell does is adds a synthetic element to the microscopic matrix, that is it helps the fibroblasts and other cells, by adding to and augmenting the matrix.

With the Acell granules, instead of just relying on the natural matrix made up of fibroblasts and the “fibrin” molecules they secrete, you also have additional matrix. So this might speed up wound healing and make the wound heal much, much metter. The scar might be much smaller in width. So if you have a gash on the skin that would normally cause a 3 cm wide scar, now maybe the scar will be only 1 cm in width.

But grow hair? It seems to me that what Acell does has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH GROWING HAIR. All it does is promote better, faster healing of the wound. But it doesn’t fundamentally CHANGE the healing process. It doesn’t add any hair-growing or hair-inducing cells, and it doesn’t stimulate them in any way. It doesn’t send any signals or orders to stem cells telling them to “grow hair” all of a sudden. For god’s sakes, it’s a simple powder composed of microscopic, grainy matrix-like substance. It doesn’t change the biochemistry of the skin. The scar that is formed will still be hairless. And just becasue you now have a “thinner” scar, that doesn’t mean that NEW HAIR grew on either side of the scar (i.e., as in HM or hair cloning.) All it means is that the tissue on the sides of the wound grew were kind of stretched further and an increased healing process at the wound side caused less fibrin to have to be used, resulting in less scar tissue and a “smaller” (i.e., thinner) scar. It may give an ILLUSION that new hair is growing, but no new hair is actually created because it cannot do this.


#5

I have gathered a bunch of photos on this case.
It seems that the Acell guys are lying like demons.

My conclusions from the photos:
-Only a small portion of the last segment of the finger was cut off. A good portion of the nail remained intact. Other doctors who commented on the pictures said that bone was intact, and no tendons or nerves were affected.
-But Lee Spievack, in an interview, gestures, and indicates that the last segment of his finger was cut in half, and all the nail was gone.
-Dr. Badylack also says that the entire nail bed, and half the distal bone were cut off, in clear contradiction with the pictures.

ps: Lee Spievack is the patient.
Dr. Badylak is the senior Scientific Advisor of ACell, Inc


#6

SD, when you say “phallanx” are you referring to the tip of the digit (skin and all) or to the bone inside it?

If you look at the “before” photo, there is no bone showing whatsoever. So that means the wound must have been really superficial. Because when I look at my own index finger, and feel where the bone ends, it ends probably only 4-5 mm from the skin. So the wound in this case must have been only around 2-3 mm at the most. The picture looks really gross, but it’s not a severe wound.


#7

Yes, thanks for the correction.
I was using the word “Phalanx” incorrectly. I have edited the post. I think it is ok now.
I thought that phalanx=segment of the finger, but it means just the bone inside that segment.

(and also, it is phalanx, not phallanx as I spelled).

edit: fortunately I have been able to edit the original post too.

» SD, when you say “phallanx” are you referring to the tip of the digit (skin
» and all) or to the bone inside it?
»
» If you look at the “before” photo, there is no bone showing whatsoever.
» So that means the wound must have been really superficial. Because when I
» look at my own index finger, and feel where the bone ends, it ends probably
» only 4-5 mm from the skin. So the wound in this case must have been only
» around 2-3 mm at the most. The picture looks really gross, but it’s not a
» severe wound.


#8

Do you mean that the scar is thinner because contraction is higher?
I speculated with this possibility in other posts, but I was not sure because I am not an expert, and I haven’t researched deeply into this.
When I saw the animal pics posted by Acell at their website (now someone have said that Acell has removed them…), I researched a bit and found out that wounds contract as they heal, so I thought it was possible that fur was contracted, pulled inwards, rather than regrown brand new.

» It’s interesting that the Guardian article refers to Acell as “a large and
» longstanding biotech firm”.
»
» Large? From the website it doesn’t really look that large. My guess is
» they have around 30-40 employees at the most.
»
» Longstanding? Their press releases go back to 2004, with nothing on the
» site before that. Don’t know when they were founded, but it’s not likely
» that it was very long ago.
»
» As for what they do, the granular “matrix” they provide probably does help
» a great deal with wound healing. Why? Because wound healing is a very
» complex process involving millions of microscopic cells and enzymes, e.g.
» fibroblasts and prostaglandins, platelets, Vitamin K, and a huge number of
» other types of cells and chemicals. They all invade the wound site and
» play different roles to close and heal the wound. Part of the wound
» closing process involves newly-created fibroblasts laying down their own
» cellular matrix around which other types of cells coalesce. Thus the
» fibroblasts are like a “natural matrix”. They aggregate at the edges of
» the wound, and other cells deposit themselves over, around and in-between
» the fibroblasts to create “new tissue”. This new tissue has some of the
» characteristics of the old tissue that was lost, but is not a perfect match
» (that’s why scar tissue looks different from the original tissue it
» replaced; scar tissue may look lighter in colour; seems not to have pores;
» and doesn’t grow hair. It’s a much more simplified version of the original
» skin.)
»
» I believe that what Acell does is adds a synthetic element to the
» microscopic matrix, that is it helps the fibroblasts and other cells, by
» adding to and augmenting the matrix.
»
» With the Acell granules, instead of just relying on the natural matrix
» made up of fibroblasts and the “fibrin” molecules they secrete, you also
» have additional matrix. So this might speed up wound healing and make the
» wound heal much, much metter. The scar might be much smaller in width.
» So if you have a gash on the skin that would normally cause a 3 cm wide
» scar, now maybe the scar will be only 1 cm in width.
»
» But grow hair? It seems to me that what Acell does has ABSOLUTELY
» NOTHING TO DO WITH GROWING HAIR. All it does is promote better, faster
» healing of the wound. But it doesn’t fundamentally CHANGE the healing
» process. It doesn’t add any hair-growing or hair-inducing cells, and it
» doesn’t stimulate them in any way. It doesn’t send any signals or orders
» to stem cells telling them to “grow hair” all of a sudden. For god’s
» sakes, it’s a simple powder composed of microscopic, grainy matrix-like
» substance. It doesn’t change the biochemistry of the skin. The scar that
» is formed will still be hairless. And just becasue you now have a
» “thinner” scar, that doesn’t mean that NEW HAIR grew on either side of the
» scar (i.e., as in HM or hair cloning.) All it means is that the tissue on
» the sides of the wound grew were kind of stretched further and an increased
» healing process at the wound side caused less fibrin to have to be used,
» resulting in less scar tissue and a “smaller” (i.e., thinner) scar. It
» may give an ILLUSION that new hair is growing, but no new hair is actually
» created because it cannot do this.


#9

Yes, I mean the scar is thinner because Acell promotes better wound healing which is less reliant on fibroblasts and fibrin, and more reliant on their own artificial matrix. The less fibrin, the less scarry tissue will result. The less scarry tissue, the smaller the final “wound”. The skin on either side of the wound is essentially being stretched a bit more, but no new hair-bearing tissue is growing and no new follicles are being created.


#10

I have searched for Acell clinical trials and have found this one:

It seems that the US army did a clinical trial on ACell Hydrated Wound Dressing, and was not satisfied with the result. They decided not to use this product for treating burned patients.
Apparently, this dressing is applied on the donor area.
It seems that this is an ECM product.

There are no other Acell trials at clinicaltrials.gov. Does this mean that the US army is not testing any other Acell product?

another link on the trial:
http://clinical-trials.healia.com/doc/NCT00352729/Evaluation-of-ACell-Hydrated-Wound-Dressing-for-Autogenous-Skin-Donor-Sites

» Yes, I mean the scar is thinner because Acell promotes better wound healing
» which is less reliant on fibroblasts and fibrin, and more reliant on their
» own artificial matrix. The less fibrin, the less scarry tissue will
» result. The less scarry tissue, the smaller the final “wound”. The skin
» on either side of the wound is essentially being stretched a bit more, but
» no new hair-bearing tissue is growing and no new follicles are being
» created.


#11

» I have searched for Acell clinical trials and have found this one:
» http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00352729?term=Acell&rank=1
»
» It seems that the US army did a clinical trial on ACell Hydrated Wound
» Dressing, and was not satisfied with the result. They decided not to use
» this product for treating burned patients.
» Apparently, this dressing is applied on the donor area.
» It seems that this is an ECM product.

Question: Why is it when I do a search on Clinicaltrials.gov for “Aderans”, “Androgenetic” or “Alopecia”, does the ARI study not come up, if they are currently operating clinical trials in the US?

It looks like every other recent trials shows up on searches for “baldness”, “alopecia”, etc., including a bunch for the HairMax LaserComb, Botox for hairloss, finasteride, Avodart, minoxidil, etc. but NOTHING about Aderans!


#12

ACell Inc. is a privately held company funded by private investors. If you are a qualified private or institutional investor and would like to know more about investing in ACell please contact Jim DeFrancesco, CEO at 800-826-2926.

ACell Inc.
8671 Robert Fulton Dr.
Columbia, MD 21046
Phone: (800) 826-2926
Fax: (410) 715-4511
Email: info@acell.com

from: http://www.acell.com/investor.php
And that’s what this is all about (old + new hype)
They desperately want to sell their company hoping some bigger fish will bite and acquire them. Because they know they got nothing but a cool idea and bunch of powder that does fukc all. If they ever decide to go public I bet their stock price would stay ~ 0.1 or 0.2 cents for a very long time as a venture company.


#13

I thought that this site was about government-sponsored trials, but you are right, there are all kind of trials, and not just in USA.
There is a trial about treating baldness with Botox, and comes from a Canadian firm.

I dunno why Aderans trials are not listed there. Follica and Histogen are not listed either.
ARI should be listed. It seems that this list in not very complete, and we cannot conclude much about the lack of Acell trials in the list.
well, we know that, in that particular trial I posted, the US army rejected the Acell product.

» » I have searched for Acell clinical trials and have found this one:
» » http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00352729?term=Acell&rank=1
» »
» » It seems that the US army did a clinical trial on ACell Hydrated Wound
» » Dressing, and was not satisfied with the result. They decided not to
» use
» » this product for treating burned patients.
» » Apparently, this dressing is applied on the donor area.
» » It seems that this is an ECM product.
»
»
» Question: Why is it when I do a search on Clinicaltrials.gov for
» “Aderans”, “Androgenetic” or “Alopecia”, does the ARI study not come up, if
» they are currently operating clinical trials in the US?
»
» It looks like every other recent trials shows up on searches for
» “baldness”, “alopecia”, etc., including a bunch for the HairMax LaserComb,
» Botox for hairloss, finasteride, Avodart, minoxidil, etc. but NOTHING about
» Aderans!


#14

@Spanish Dude,
did you know that ACells’ chief scientific officer, Dr. Stephen Badylak, is a Board Member of HISTOGEN Inc. too?

http://www.histogen.com/aboutus/management_board.htm

Time to start the next ACell crap topic - eh?


#15

Iron_Man gets very upset when we expose Acell contradictions…
mmmmhhh… why is that?
Iran_Man is new in this board, registered just a few days ago, and dedicates 90% of his efforts to defend Acell.

MMMHHHHHH…

fishy fishy :slight_smile:

p.d. If Badylack is also cooperating with Histogen, thats another reason to doubt Histogen too. Thanks for the info.