Excerpt from recent email from a friend:
... we were on the way back into the big mall complex proper [at the Flatiron Mall in Denver, CO], passing by various stores in the outdoor section. We were passing by a spa that I had barely registered in my brain on the way to lunch--they had a dry erase board with a listing of their services, such as Botox and facial waxes. I forgot about it as soon as I passed it.
Well, *this* time, ____ pointed out an item midway down the board, which said, "DNA STEM CELLS".
I stared at it, racking my brain for any recollection of salon stem cell use, but came up dry. So I walked in, and asked the three women of various ages, in lab coats, for more information. The older of the trio, a middle-aged woman with wavy blonde hair, said, "You have stem cells in your skin, and as you age, those stem cells don't work as well. We replenish your stem cells using bovine stem cells from amniotic fluid to rejuvenate the skin."
"Yes, because they are the most similar, molecularly, to our own."
"Ah. .... and, um, how do you, uh, apply, these stem cells?"
"We massage them into the skin." (Demonstrating, waving her fingers in circles around her face without quite touching the skin.)
"... So, you're saying that you ... replenish ... the stem cells ... by topical application?"
" ... I see. ... Yes. ... Thank you, have a nice day."
I left the spa and joined ____ outside, and walked a bit before practically collapsing with laughter and trying to keep myself from having an aneurysm. It would have been fun to delve deeper, just to see (such as: how do you keep these stem cells? Exactly how do the stem cells cross the epithelial barrier? What molecules, really, are you talking about?), but I had stuff to do.
My friend, who is a developmental biologist, subsequently sent me a link to Clinique Reneux's "CryoStem Skin Therapy™" FAQ, which contains much hilarity.
UPDATE: On further Googling, it appears that this scam is perpetrated by "The DNA Health Institute" (warning: odious Flash page), a company led by erstwhile homeopathic charlatan Noel Aguilar, "Ph.D.". "Dr." Aguilar has evidently gotten tired of giving talks at Rotary Clubs and writing "forwards" [sic.] for books on "magnetic healing". I would be very interested to know where Noel Aguilar got his Ph.D., and in what field, and what his thesis was. If he actually is a Ph.D., that means his doctoral thesis is on file in some university library somewhere, and you should be able to order a copy.
I suspect it would be "interesting" reading --- in sociology, or English, or some other field completely unrelated to cellular biology.
Note, also, that the CryoStem literature suggests the treatment has received FDA approval. However, a search through the FDA's catalog of approved drugs for "cryostem", "cry", and "stem" reveal no hits --- even though the claims made for CryoStem definitely meet the (B) clause of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, section 201(g)(1)'s standard for drugs: "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals". If promoters of this drug are not simply lying outright, but merely stretching the truth, then the most they could have done is submit reports indicating that CryoStem meets the minimal safety requirements for cosmetics, with no evaluation of efficacy. (Drugs must be both safe and effective; cosmetics need only be safe, or carry a warning label).
Incidentally, this all serves as further evidence for my working hypothesis that only charlatans or the incredibly insecure actually write "Ph.D." after their name, or call themselves "Dr." (unless they are licensed, practicing medical doctors). Go to any top ten university department in any field, and you'll find few people who do either, except as a joke, or when they need to impress somebody especially thickheaded (e.g., Congress).
UPDATE': In comments, Inky notes:
I looked at the Rotary Club link. It says that:
Today there is a Hahnemann Medical College of Homeopathy. Dr. Aguilar attended, and earned a degree there.
Also: apparently the majority of homeopathic .. erm, instituions, are either named after Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathic quarkery. Otherwise, they conveniently put in "Homeopathy", like the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy.
Thus, there is not just *one* Hahnemann Medical College of Homeopathy. Locations gleaned from the first page of Google searches include: Pennsylvania, Heikunst, New Delhi, and Bhopal. I suppose Dr. Aguilar went to PA.
Also, a correspondent helpfully writes, via email:
According to _Dissertation Abstracts_, nobody named Noel Aguilar has received a Ph.D. from an accredited North American institution --- and their records go back to some point in the 1800s. In fact there are only 140 Aguilars in their data base, which includes some European schools (I don't know since when but at least since the 1990s), and none of them have names which could plausibly be versions of Noel Aguilar, e.g., "N. Aguilar". So there are three possibilities: (1) He got his degree abroad. (2) He got his degree from a non-accredited institution. (3) He just made it up.
Therefore, I conclude that "Dr." Aguilar most likely got his "degree" from a non-accredited school specializing in homeopathy.