The toddler, Celeste Carrer, suffers from muscular atrophy or progressive muscle wastage. In the past 18 months she has had several injections of stem cells taken from the bone marrow of her mother Elisabetta that reportedly enabled to her to move her head, arms and legs after near paralysis.
The treatments were carried out by paediatrician Dr Mario Andolina at Brescia Hospital in Italy’s north in conjunction with the Stamina Foundation, a non-profit organisation established in 2009 to promote stem cell research.
However the child’s treatment was stopped in May after Turin prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello launched an investigation into medical staff at the non-profit foundation.
Police raided the hospital’s laboratories while agents from the Agenzia del Farmaco, the national drug agency, blocked the “collection, transport, manipulation, cultivation, storage and administration of human cells” at the hospital and foundation.
“The block on Brescia will unfortunately cause the death of several patients,” said Dr Andolina.”The therapy annoys people because the stem cell treatment is practically free apart from a bone marrow extraction from relatives. Traditional cures on the other hand cost thousands of euros.”
Elisabetta Carrer and her husband won legal approval in January 2011 to begin their child’s transplants and are now taking legal action in a bid to resume Celeste’s treatments.
“The laboratory is considered appropriate to manage transplants for children from all over Europe and is regarded as cutting edge,” the Carrers’ lawyer Dario Bianchini told La Repubblica, the Italian daily.
“There is clinical evidence to show that Celeste, after these treatments, has improved.” Under a decree approved by former Health Minister Livia Turco in 2006, stem cell research is permitted in Italy when a patient is in a life-threatening situation or worsening.
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Stem cell tranplant decision due in Venice