July 7, 2022

Indian stem cell cures dangerous, say Australian scientists

Geeta Shroff’s treatment regarded as unproven and dangerous

Australian
scientists on both sides of the debate over stem cell ethics have
expressed their alarm at the visit of an Indian doctor who injects
her patients with human embryonic stem cells. Dr Geeta Shroff, of
Delhi, has developed embryonic stem cell lines to treat conditions
like spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease. She
claims that her therapy is safe and can result in improved movement
and sensation in limbs. A number of her patients report significant
improvement.

However, critics say
the use of human embryonic stem cells is unproven and risky. "It
would be dangerously irresponsible to administer embryonic stem cells
to any human subject for any reason," said Professor Jack
Martin, of the University of Melbourne. "If there is ever a
place for human embryonic stem cells in treatment, it will be very
many years from now."

Other scientists
pointed out that improvements in some of Dr Shroff’s Australian
patients could be due to a placebo effect. And even Dr Bob
Williamson, a strong supporter of embryo research, expressed doubts.
“In Australia we have a very, very rigorous regulation system
before any new medicine, any new form of therapy can be tried.
Overseas they’re often not as careful which means they can go ahead
more quickly but there are also more risks… The particular risk
that really worries me in this case, is the risk that cells which
come from another person, from an embryo, from a foetus, from cord
blood, may be rejected by the patient.” ~
The
Age, Oct 17;
ABC,
Oct 17