Stem-cell therapy 'can be lethal'

People considering stem-cell treatment have been advised to think again, with six groups of medical specialists issuing a strong warning yesterday that unlicensed stem-cell treatments on offer could kill a patient.

The medical societies that issued the statement include the Royal College of Physicians, the Dermatological Society, Heart Association of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of His Majesty the King, the Thai Society of Haematology, the Nephrology Society and the Neurology Society.

The statement said the Medical Council of Thailand had only approved the use of stem-cell treatment on blood diseases - namely leukaemia, malignant lymphoma, aplastic anaemia, multiple myeloma and thalassemia.

Clinical research on the use of stem-cell treatment is ongoing, but there is no scientific evidence that stem-cell therapy can effectively increasing a person's longevity, or delay organ degeneration or improve a patient's quality of life, Prof Kriang Tungsanga, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said.

The move by the medical societies was prompted by widespread ads about stem-cell-based "miracle pills" that claim to ease the symptoms of chronic symptoms such as diabetes and heart disease.

The unlicensed use of stem-cell therapy to treat heart disease, diabetes or for aesthetic purposes has become popular among celebrities and rich people who can afford the treatment, which can cost anything from Bt100,000 to Bt1 million.

Some patients even fly to private clinics in Germany to receive stem-cell injections extracted from unborn sheep that they believe will improve their health and make them look younger.

However, Kriang reiterated that stem-cell therapy is not recommended or included in the standard clinical practice guidelines of any disease other than some blood conditions.

Wrong usage 'can hurt'

Moreover, inappropriate use of stem-cell therapy may be harmful to patients as they could develop an allergy, clotting in blood vessels, contamination of the blood stream, foreign protein materials, chemicals microbial organisms and other non-pure types of cells and cancer transforming cells.

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Stem-cell therapy 'can be lethal'

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