GLEN ALLEN, Va. (TheStreet) -- Manti Te'o isn't alone in concocting imaginary relationships. So, too, is Star Scientific (STSI), which has misled investors about the involvement of Johns Hopkins University in the clinical testing of the company's retail nutritional supplement anatabine.
Star Scientific and its Internet stock promoters want investors to believe that Johns Hopkins has been actively involved with, and even supportive of, anatabine's clinical development. The benefit to Star Scientific is obvious: Johns Hopkins is well-known and respected, so the school's academic imprimatur lends scientific credibility to anatabine.
Except Johns Hopkins has no official involvement with Star Scientific or anatabine. That includes Star's subsidiary Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, according to a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine spokesperson.
"The Antabloc Supplementation Autoimmune Prevention [ASAP] clinical study was not conducted at or approved by Johns Hopkins," Johns Hopkins' Stephanie Desmon said via email.Star reported initial interim results from the ASAP study of anatabine as a potential treatment for thyroid disease on Jan. 7. The company claims the study succeeded but failed to disclose any real data. Star's press release included a promotional quote about anatabine from Dr. Paul Ladenson, described as a "senior endocrinological consultant" for the study. Ladeneson's real job is director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He's a thyroid disease expert. Why did Star Scientific omit Ladenson's academic affiliation from its Jan. 7 press release? Likely because as Desmon made clear, Ladenson's role in Star Scientific's anatabine thyroid disease study had nothing to do with Johns Hopkins. Biotech investors, click here to visit TheStreet's 2013 FDA and EMA drug approval decision calendar. Star Scientific paid Ladenson for his consulting work, which apparently includes offering this assessment of the anatabine thyroid study: Data from this rigorously conducted, placebo-controlled, double blind trial show that anatabine-treated subjects had progressive decreases in circulating thyroglobulin antibody levels, which became significant by the end of the trial. Current treatment for autoimmune thyroiditis is limited to end-stage disease when irreversible gland damage necessitates lifelong thyroid hormone replacement. The prospect of a novel nutritional or pharmaceutical intervention that could preserve thyroid health represents an encouraging advance. Further clinical studies are now warranted. Asked to comment on whether Johns Hopkins, as Ladenson's employer, approved his anatabine statement, Desmon responded: "We do have guidelines about such things and he [Ladenson] is in violation here." Johns Hopkins has started an inquiry into the matter, Desmon added. Johns Hopkins would not make Ladenson available to comment. Star Scientific did not respond to an email requesting comment. Dr. Patrizio Caturegli, also a professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School and a paid consultant to Star Scientific, co-authored a paper last year with Ladenson in which mice were treated with anatabine. Star Scientific publicizes the findings of Caturegli's paper without disclosing the company's financial relationship with the authors.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV