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Scientists In UK Issue A Caution Over Untested Stem Cell Treatments

Experts from Britain have warned the patients to be wary of the so-called stem cell wonder cures that are being offered abroad as most have not been properly tested.//

The health experts had yesterday in a letter to the Times, praised UK for establishing herself as a world leader in stem cell research, but cautioned that many foreign therapies, in particular those for multiple sclerosis and cosmetic skin treatment were yet to be proven, and could be dangerous.

It was reported that in Britain, the therapy is approved for conditions including skin grafting and bone marrow transplants. Sources from the newspaper said, Professor Colin Blakemore, the chairman of the UK Stem Cell Funders Forum, Lord Patel, chairman of the steering committee for the UK Stem Cell Bank, and Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the MS Society were among the notable signatories from the 14 medical charities and researcher funders that had signed the letter.

The letter said, “In principle, we welcome efforts to translate research findings as quickly as possible into clinical benefits - but only in the context of rigorous scientific scrutiny. In the case of these unorthodox 'stem-cell' treatments, the protocols and results have not been published or subject to independent review. Although scientists are making great strides in stem-cell science, there is no published evidence to support claims that stem cells can safely repair tissue damage caused by multiple sclerosis.”

The letter further stated that, “Indeed, there is concern that these unproven treatments could be dangerous, potentially exposing patients to the risk of uncontrolled and inappropriate tissue generation.” All the eminent signatories had warned that two such clinics in the Netherlands are under investigation, and further adding, “We worry that those who are cutting corners risk discrediting the field as well as betraying patients.”

Stem cells are immature cells, which h ave the ability to become different kinds of tissue. The cells extracted from early embryos less than 14 days old can potentially be focussed to grow into any part of the body, from bones to brains. Scientists across the world are of the opinion that they will be used in future to develop new treatments for a host of diseases, including currently incurable conditions such as diabetes and Parkinson's.

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