Rip-off cell cures give false hope say doctors
LARISSA NOLAN DESPERATE patients with grave neurological diseases are paying up to ?40,000 for a therapy that is "ineffective and unproven", according to senior medics.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Motor Neurone Disease (MND) sufferers are travelling to clinics across Europe for controversial stem cell treatment.
The Irish Institute of Clinical Neuroscience (IICN) warned that hype about stem cell research is giving "false hope" to the vulnerable, who will try anything for a cure.
It says the treatment cannot be advocated by doctors working with those with neurological disorders.
Consultant neurologist Dr Orla Hardiman said the therapy was based on only "limited evidence".
She explained: "Stem cell therapy is only at a very basic stage, even the animal experiments have not been proven.
"It is exploitative and irresponsible to sell this as a cure to those who are suffering, those with incurable diseases. There is zero evidence that it is effective."
There are 250 MND sufferers in Ireland and 6,000 people with MS. The IICN believes that about five to 10 per cent of these are travelling to places like Switzerland, Germany and Holland for the controversial treatment, which involves injections of stem cells into the brain.
But British Professor Ian Wilmut, the scientist behind the cloning of Dolly the Sheep, said recently: "If we wait until these things are totally tested, it will deny some people treatment."
Stem cells are the foundation for every organ, tissue and cell in the body and can be modified into different functional adult cell types.