The Department of Health has warned that “rogue clinics” are offering risky stem cell treatment. This follows a warning by the Multiple Sclerosis society that despite there being no scientific evidence for using stem cells to treat MS, a company in the Seychelles is approaching MS patients to sell them treatment. In addition, newspapers have reported that the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has stated that stem cell clinics around the world are exploiting patients by offering, “supposed stem cell therapies without credible scientific rationale, oversight or other patient protections”. The society has published guidelines in an attempt to establish standards that can be used to judge the claims made by clinics and whether the treatments they offer are being developed responsibly.
What is the issue?
Stem cell therapy holds great promise for treating a wide range of diseases and conditions. However, the science is still at an early stage and much more research is required before it can be used safely and effectively. Despite the experimental state of many stem cell therapies, they are being sold over the internet directly to patients. Treatment then takes place in countries whose regulations will allow it. There is concern these companies are putting patients with often very serious and terminal conditions at further risk with untested treatments, while extracting substantial payment from them. The Department of Health (DH) has issued a warning about international, web-based schemes that purport to offer patients “stem cell treatments”, “stem cell therapies” or participation in “stem cell trials”. These claim to involve treatments for a variety of diseases, including MS, HIV infection, Parkinson’s disease and cerebral palsy. The schemes promise to treat UK patients overseas “for free”. The ISSCR has published new guidelines for developing safe and effective stem cell treatments and for getting research from the lab into clinical use. These guidelines say that stem cell therapy requires “expert evaluation, independent oversight, genuinely informed consent of patients and transparent reporting of clinical trial results”.
From: NHS (UK) Read more here