February 29, 2024

Scepticism greets new stem-cell regulations in China

Government hopes to crack down on rogue clinics.

China has issued new laws to regulate stem cell research, hoping to crack down on rogue clinic offering bogus cures.

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission says that all stem cell treatments are deemed to be experimental, except for bone marrow transplants. There must be informed consent by the patient,  clinical-grade stem cells must be used, treatment may take place only at authorised hospitals which are not allowed to advertise or charge for the procedures. The treament must be tested first on animals.

The Commission also warned overseas patients about the dangers of stem-cell tourism.

“Anyone caught breaking the rules will be punished according to the new regulation,” said Zhang Linming, a  commission official. The only problem is that no punishments have been specified.  

Douglas Sipp, a stem-cell policy expert at  stem-cell policy at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan, told Nature News: “In principle, I applaud any efforts to rein in practice of predatory clinics that take advantage of patients. But the fact that these new rules do not appear to have penalties leaves open the question of how effective they will be. I have seen China crack down on stem-cell clinics at least twice in the past, and the results were inconclusive.”

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