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Read Original Story

Magnets Might Boost Stem Cell Therapy


1 Star

Magnets Might Boost Stem Cell Therapy

Our Review Summary

We don’t review stories on animal research unless they make a claim that leaps into the realm of human application.  This story did that when it quoted one of the researchers saying "This remarkably simple method could easily be coupled with current stem cell treatments to enhance their effectiveness."  Since the source of the story was a medical center news release and since the researchers "are founders of a company that has filed patents for the techniques," we would expect a story to apply more scrutiny to these claims. 



Why This Matters

A recent analysis concluded that "Published animal trials overestimate by about 30% the likelihood that a treatment works because negative results often go unpublished."  But overestimates of efficacy may also come when your only source is a medical center news release and your only quotes come from someone who stands to gain financially from promotion of an approach.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable due to very early stage of research.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

We weren’t told how many times the approach was tested, in how many rats. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

No discussion of even potential harms – just how "remarkably simple" it could be to enhance treatment effectiveness. 

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Not one word on how huge the leap may be from "toy magnet" research in rats to human application.  Yet the story allowed the conflicted researchers to say, unchallenged, "This remarkably simple method could easily be coupled with current stem cell treatments to enhance their effectiveness."

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Applicable

Not applicable – no meaningful discussion of heart damage in humans.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The source is a medical center news release. And the quotes, from that news release, are from a researcher who is "founder of a company that has filed patents for the techniques," according to the story.  So, while, that conflict was disclosed, there is no independent perspective in the story. That’s unsatisfactory in our view. 


Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

No such comparison. No context given on other related stem cell research.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story barely implied that there is still work to be done before this is available for people.  Barely satisfactory.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

No context given on other research to enhance cardiac stem cell interventions.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Satisfactory

The story states that its source is a Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute news release. There’s no sign of independent reporting or vetting of the claims.

Total Score: 1 of 8 Satisfactory


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