One of the largest and most controversial stem cell clinics in the western world has closed. The XCell-Center at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, based in Germany, ceased operations on April 21, due to what the Center claims is “a new development in German law”. In October 2010, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported that the XCell-Center was operating in Germany under a regulatory loophole. (For those looking for more detail on the EU and German legal framework governing regenerative medicine, see this summary.) It would now appear that the German authorities have evaluated the Center under more rigorous rules.
Last fall, we wrote about concerns over the XCell-Center following the death of a toddler who received treatment for cerebral palsy. Such tragedies fuelled the controversy over the clinic’s procedures and ethics.
“Stem cell tourism” draws thousands of people around the world each year for unproven treatments that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Research organizations and independent bloggers have cautioned against clinics that make seemingly miraculous claims. For patients and their families, the International Society for Stem Cell Research created the web site A Closer Look at Stem Cell Treatments to find the information necessary to properly evaluate the claims of stem cell clinics.
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