Three of the UK’s leading stem cell scientists have reminded their colleagues that the safety and efficacy of stem cells has yet to be proven. Peter Braude, Stephen L. Minger and Ruth Warwick have pointed out in the British Medical Journal that “the premature use of cell therapy could put many patients at risk of viral or prion diseases unless systems are in place”. Stem cell enthusiasts should remember deaths from the premature application of gene therapy, the devastation of HIV-infected haemophiliacs, hepatitis C spread through blood transfusions and the mysterious emergence of mad cow disease. “Commercial companies are springing up around the world with all the fervour of a new ‘biological dotcom’ era, but with selective memory loss for the fact that unrealistically high expectations burst that bubble,” they write.
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