Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Controversy Erupts Over Miraculous 'Pixie Dust'

When someone loses an arm, leg, ear or finger, it's supposed to be gone forever. But the BBC reported a hobby store worker, Lee Spievak, was able to regrow his finger tip after it was severed in a model plane accident.

Spievak claims to have used "pixie dust" sent to him by his brother, Alan, who "was working in the field of regenerative medicine," read the BBC article. Thanks to the dust, Spievak's finger was miraculously restored completely, including full sensation and finger prints.

The pixie dust is actually an "extra cellular matrix" culled from the bladder of pigs. It sounds like something out of a witch's recipe book, doesn't it?

Well that may be exactly where it belongs.

According to the London Times, the BBC is "backtracking" on the story. As it turns out, "the claims had not been substantiated by any kind of scientific publication." Not only that, the injury Spievak suffered were superficial. "Such injuries are renowned for self-healing," reported the Times. The icing on the cake, Lee Spievak's brother Stephen is the "chief scientist" for Acell, a biotech company.

A final suspicious element of the story, "exactly the same claims had been published in American media outlets in February 2007 - again featuring Lee Spievak."

Public relations stunt or medical breakthrough? Pound360 suspects the former.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.