Justice minister won't interfere with Stamina court decision

'Ministry can't interfere with judges' Orlando tells Senate

(ANSA) - Rome, July 23 - Justice Minister Andrea Orlando told the Senate health committee Wednesday that the ministry can't interfere with a court ruling that forced a hospital to administer the controversial Stamina stem-cell treatment to an ailing boy. His statement came after a court ordered the treatment administered to a child suffering from muscular dystrophy at a hospital in northern Italy on Tuesday, despite the fact that it has been discredited by many in the scientific community. The Stamina treatment was administered on the orders of a Sicilian court after the hospital in Brescia decided to suspend the procedure because it had been called into doubt. The justice ministry "cannot interfere with the court's decisions. The judge has freedom of interpretation," Orlando told MPs. "However, no amount of court rulings can fill what is a legislative void on this issue," he added. The credibility of the Stamina treatment - which involves extracting bone-marrow stem cells from a patient, supposedly turning them into neurons by exposing them to retinoic acid for two hours, and injecting them back into the patient - has long been suspect, and last autumn the health ministry ruled that the Stamina Foundation would no longer be allowed to test the treatment on humans. The foundation was also stripped of its non-profit status after a study found the treatment was "ignorant of stem-cell biology". However some local judges have ruled in favor of its application amid heavy pressure from advocates and the families of patients. So far only courts in Genoa and Turin have denied access to the treatment, the justice minister pointed out. Also on Wednesday, privacy watchdog agency director Antonello Soro testified at the same committee hearing that sensationalized media reports featuring prominently displayed images of terminally ill children have clouded the issue of whether or not the treatment is scientifically valid. "Media have too often given in to the temptation of...exploiting the image of sick children," Soro said. "The right of ill minors not to have their disease put on display has been violated...especially by online media," he added.

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Justice minister won't interfere with Stamina court decision

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