> ANSA English > News

Brescia hospitals suspend Stamina treatments

Stem-cell treatment discredited in government probes

02 April, 15:44
Brescia hospitals suspend Stamina treatments (ANSA) - Rome, April 2 - Hospitals in Italy that used a discredited stem-cell treatment announced Wednesday they have suspended the program. "Our clinics have decided to suspend Stamina treatments indefinitely," Ezio Belleri, extraordinary commissioner of the civic hospital system in Brescia, told the parliament health committee.

Italy's health ministry announced in October that the Stamina Foundation - the nonprofit foundation that developed the treatment - would not be allowed to test it on humans.

The foundation was also stripped of its non-profit status after a study found its treatment was "ignorant of stem-cell biology".

The head of the foundation, Davide Vannoni, a former psychology lecturer, was indicted earlier this year for alleged attempted fraud against the Piedmont Region.

The Stamina Foundation had asked for 500,000 euros of funding to develop a stem-cell laboratory, a request prosecutors argue was fraudulent because the efficacy of the treatment has been "completely disproved".

The Stamina treatment involves extracting bone-marrow stem cells from a 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 thought it could be a cure for fatal degenerative nerve diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy, while detractors said it was devoid of scientific merit.

A panel of experts appointed by Italy's health ministry said in January 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".