In a case which is a veritable cocktail of bioethical issues, Europe’s biggest stem cell clinic has been shut down.
In a case which is a veritable cocktail of bioethical issues, Europe’s biggest stem cell clinic has been shut down. The controversial practices of the XCell-Center in Düsseldorf, currently at the heart of a scandal over the death of a baby after a brain injection, were exposed by an undercover investigation from the London Sunday Telegraph. The clinic had been charging patients up to more than US$30,000 for stem cell injections into the brain and back despite a lack of scientific proof that the treatments actually worked.
Stem cell research experts had accused XCell of exploiting vulnerable patients who desperately sought cures for illnesses and diseases such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autism and spinal cord injuries. Most other European countries – as well as the US, Canada and Australia – have outlawed stem cell treatments unless shown to be effective and safe. XCell had exploited a loophole in German legislation allowing it to charge for the experimental treatments.
In the past fortnight, however, XCell announced suddenly that it had stopped carrying out operations because of what it called legal changes in Germany. A posting on its website in the last two weeks declared:
“Due to a new development in German law, stem cell therapy is currently not possible to perform at the XCell-Center. Regretfullyfor this reason, we must cancel your appointment until further notice. We will notify you for further updates about the matter.”
The clinic had come under intensifying scrutiny after the death of an 18-month-old Romanian boy last August. Three months before, a 10-year-old Azerbaijani boy almost died after a similar procedure. Criminal charges may be laid against the doctor.
Ira Hermann, who manages the German stem cell network which funds scientific research projects, said: “XCell was offering unproven treatments and taking a lot of money from very vulnerable people.” Professor Chris Mason, of the University College London, said: “This is excellent news for the European cell therapy industry. XCell had failed to demonstrate itstreatments were either safe and effective or had scientific rationale.” ~ London Telegraph, May 8
Europe’s biggest stem cell clinic shut down after baby’s death
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