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Italian Stem Cell Trial Stopped

With support from scientists, Italy’s health minister halts a controversial clinical trial.

By | October 11, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGINGAcknowledging the concerns of a number of scientists in Italy, the country’s health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, agreed to put a stop to a controversial stem cell clinical trial. “This is the end of the matter,” Luca Pani, president of the Italian Medicines Agency, told Nature. “And we are very happy.”

The Stamina Foundation, an Italian research organization, developed a method to treat neurodegenerative diseases using neurons grown from bone marrow. The Italian government agreed to fund the trials. But an expert panel, appointed by the Italian government to hash out an appropriate way to proceed with testing the therapy, determined that the method was bunkum.

Indeed, scientists in Italy have been concerned that there was no scientific foundation to Stamina’s method. And earlier this year, Nature did its own investigation, revealing that a figure in a patent application from Stamina originated from experiments by another group. According to the article, “the identical figures represent very different experimental conditions.”

Already, some patients in Italy are in the course of receiving Stamina’s treatments, and it’s not clear how the Health Minister’s decision will affect them. Stamina president Davide Vannoni told ScienceInsider that “the reasons for rejection are totally unfounded.” According to Nature, Vannoni plans to reinitiate the trial, this time in China.

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Avatar of: MikeH

MikeH

Posts: 15

October 14, 2013

Stem cell scams are happening in the US and other countries as well.  Doesn't take too much googling to find them.  One even went so far as to list themselves as a clinical trial on Clinicaltrials.gov.  Apparently there's essentially zero review of these listings.  It was apparently removed after a complaint was made.  These scams are impeding the progress of actual research of use of stem cells in arthritis. 

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