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British Scientists Doubt Delhi Doctor’s Stem Cell Claim

A Delhi-based doctor’s claim of having produced and purified stem cells from human embryos to treat incurable diseases does not have many takers in the British medical fraternity.

The Guardian reported Friday that experts here have called // on Indian authorities to impose tighter curbs on clinics in India that make extravagant claims about the use of embryonic stem cells.

The doctor whose claims have evoked some concern here is Geeta Shroff, who, in the early 90s had hit the headlines by reportedly developing a technique for determining a baby's sex while in the womb without taking a scan.

Shroff, who runs a genetic research facility and hospital in south Delhi, now claims to have treated over 100 terminally ill patients with stem cell therapy.

Shroff told the newspaper: 'My patients often have no other choice. I am their last chance.' The report quoted some patients who claimed improvement in their medical conditions.

According to Stephen Minger, director of the King's College London's stem cell biology laboratory: 'It is highly implausible and frankly downright dangerous. If the Indian government wants to promote stem cell research, it needs to seriously look at regulation of these doctors and if necessary close them down.'

An editorial in the British Medical Journal this year warned that Indian authorities needed to act to 'prevent the escalating numbers of clinics offering stem cell cures for all sorts of ills'.

Minger told the daily: 'Only one team in the world, from the American firm Geron, is pushing for clinical trials and that is a very well understood, specific application for spinal cord injury. And we have concerns with that. This doctor has not published a peer-reviewed paper. How can one independently verify the results?'

The report quoted Shroff as saying that patients from the US and Britain were going to her for treatment, and that her therapy appeared to con
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