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'Stamina' stem-cell treatment berated in Italian Senate

'Pseudoscientific' says pharmaceuticals agency

06 February, 15:37
'Stamina' stem-cell treatment berated in Italian Senate (ANSA) - Rome, February 6 - A discredited stem-cell treatment in Italy was berated Thursday by the Italian State Pharmaceuticals Agency (AIFA) for being "commercial and pseudoscientific".

The comments were made by AIFA chief Luca Pani before a Senate hearing on Thursday. "The patients were not competently monitored," he added.

"Parliament needs to distance itself from the business of pseudo-therapies".

The untested form of stem-cell treatment involves extracting bone-marrow stem cells from the patient, turning them into neurons by exposing them to retinoic acid for two hours, and injecting them back into the patient. Supporters of the therapy say it could be a cure for fatal degenerative nerve diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy, while detractors say it is devoid of scientific merit.

A panel of experts appointed by Italy's health ministry said last month it found the therapy seriously lacking in both premise and practice.

Their report cited "serious imperfections and omissions in the Stamina protocol, including conceptual errors and an apparent ignorance of stem-cell biology". "Some sections of the protocol were copied from Wikipedia".

Authorities recently stripped the Stamina Foundation of its non-profit status.