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CellTex Says It's Moving Its Stem Cell Business to Mexico

CellTex founders David Eller (left) and Stanley Jones

Photograph by Thomas Prior for Bloomberg Businessweek

CellTex founders David Eller (left) and Stanley Jones

CellTex Therapeutics, the Houston company that opened one of the first commercial stem-cell labs in the country in 2011, then closed it after a warning from regulators last fall, issued surprising news this week. The company sent its patients a cheery e-mail saying that it is going to be working with doctors in Mexico—instead of the U.S.—to provide its unapproved treatment.

“We are happy to report we are bringing this technology to Mexico,” CellTex wrote in its note. “We anticipate that we will be able to offer our stem cell therapy services to physicians in Mexico starting very soon! These winter-time trips to beautiful, sunny locations in Mexico to build these relationships have been an added benefit!” The company declined to comment further.

CellTex, whose adventures I chronicled early in January, also said it is opening a new research lab in Houston (its original lab had been cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for having major manufacturing problems) and hoped to begin clinical trials under FDA supervision. Looks like the showdown with the feds is over for now.

CellTex had been charging patients up to $30,000 for its treatments. First, a doctor would remove two teaspoons of fat from a patient’s abdomen. Then lab technicians would extract about 250,000 adult stem cells, multiply them in a medium, and freeze and store them in vials. Some time later a doctor would give the stem cells to the patient intravenously—200 million stem cells a week for three weeks. There’s no word as to how much money new patients will have to pay to be treated in those beautiful sunny locations in Mexico.

Berfield is a writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York. Follow her on Twitter @susanberfield.

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