Questions raised about XCell Center

Author: Stem Cell Network, 10/22/10

In recent years the Stem Cell Network has worked closely with its international colleagues to shed light on clinics offering “stem cell” therapies for which there is scant scientific evidence. One such initiative is A Closer Look at Stem Cell Treatments, a web resource created by the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and a useful reference for those considering treatment options outside of Canada.

One assumption often made is that such rogue clinics operate primarily out of exotic locations such as China, Thailand, or closer to home, Mexico. However, reprinted here is a story that appeared a few days ago in WirtschaftsWoche (a leading German weekly business news magazine) about XCell Center, a private company based in Düsseldorf, Germany and one of the leading advertisers of stem-cell based therapies on the web.

Death forces authorities to place restrictions on the Düsseldorf company XCell

by Susanne Kutter, October 16, 2010

Cornelis Kleinbloesem is a shrewd entrepreneur. For almost a year now, patients with incurable diseases, and parents with mentally and physically handicapped children have been travelling from all over the world to receive treatment at his XCell Center in Düsseldorf. There, they hope for a cure for themselves or their children from the stem cell therapy that he and his team of doctors offer – at a cost of up to 18,500 Euro. Serious stem cell researchers have just begun carrying out studies to test the effectiveness of such treatments, and now consider the belief that the XCell treatment can succeed to be utopian.

Kleinbloesem’s claims of success could now be his downfall. Some of the 3,500 treatments he asserts have been carried out have gone terribly wrong. Stem cells were injected into the brain of an 18-month-old boy, who hours later collapsed and died in the children’s neurosurgery ward of the Helios Clinic in Krefeld. “The medical records have been confiscated,” verified Düsseldorf District Attorney Christoph Kumpa. A doctor at XCell had previously injected stem cells into the brain of a 10-year-old boy from Azerbaijan last Easter, causing cranial bleeding that almost killed him. The family is currently filing suit with the Düsseldorf District Attorney’s Office (WirtschaftsWoche 16 and 32/2010). Three further near-catastrophes are also known to have come to the attention of WirtschaftsWoche.

Kleinbloesem and his dubious stem cell therapies fall into a legal gray area, and will continue to do so until at least the end of this year. Since this death, however, even authorities who previously saw no possibility for intervention have become active.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute in Langen, the organization responsible for stem cell issues nationwide, has drawn up an experts’ report that categorizes the use of stem cells, at least in the brain, as questionable and therefore forbidden. Excerpts have been made available to WirtschaftsWoche: “According to current scientific understanding, the XCell Center’s stipulated use of stem cell treatments has damaging effects that far exceed any tenable limits within medical science.”

The state authorities have set a deadline for the company to react to these allegations – the first step on the way to prohibiting the therapy. The Dominikus Hospital in Düsseldorf-Heerdt (two floors of which have been leased out to XCell for a period of ten years) is also distancing itself from the company: “XCell wanted to work more closely with us in children’s anaesthesia and intensive care, but we refused,” said Hospital Manager Verena Hölken.

XCell did not respond to questions posed by WirtschaftsWoche, but Kleinbloesem did react. He fired the doctor who had operated on the children and announced to authorities that his clinic will no longer perform treatments on the brain. In fact, a few days ago his employees sent a family from Spain back home again, explaining to them that, “The German government has forbidden this treatment.”

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5 Responses

  1. Drew Lyall says:

    Further comment on this story can be found in the Daily Telegraph (UK)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/8082935/Baby-death-scandal-at-stem-cell-clinic-which-treats-hundreds-of-British-patients-a-year.html

  2. Elmarie Bouwer says:

    We had a devastating experience with the XCell Center in Dusseldorf – as recent as two weeks ago – and it is still ongoingFor seven months did we work on sorting out the logistic of our visit to the XCell Center in Dusseldorf.I sold my house in order to pay for the trip and the treatment of my grandson. For the entire seven months, my grandson lived! for this trip – he watched all the “Patient Story Videos” several times a dayI have been in contact with Anne Clausen from the Center all the time. I have often asked after any negative experiences et al – and always the answer to the negative – no negative incidents at allI had to pay our flights in full – R36 000+, as well as the accommodation R9 000+ – in order to apply for our travel visas – which cost another R2 100I paid a deposit of R10 000 to the Center – way back, to confirm our treatment dates.Anne Clausen from the center put a lot of pressure on me to pay the deposit soonestFor weeks on end our travel date was set for 28 April 2011 – with August’s first treatment scheduled for 2 May 2011Late afternoon of the 27th April – a day before our departure, Anne phoned me to share with me – the government has stopped all stem cell treatment at the XCell Center in Germany.She could give me no reason for the termination of the treatment – but said “Oh well the weather is nice – come for a holiday instead”We decided to fly in any case – as we would not be reimbursed for flights or accommodation.I went to see Anne at the center on Monday 2 May – and she insisted she could tell me nothing more.I contacted the national as well as local governments – the local government confirmed that they had been in discussions with the management team of the Center for months on end re the issues experiencedI met with the COO – Dr Bennay on the Wednesday, and he openly shared all with me – of the fatality, of the communications from the government for months on endWhen I asked – why did they not give us any indication of these issues – his reply “we were hoping all along that things would come right”I asked him if they ever considered the effect on a cerebral palsied young boy – who has been living! for the day he could be treated. A brilliant young boy – who cannot use any of his limbsLong story short – it is now two weeks later – none of my emails to the Center are answered, and when I phone – the phone rings for a very long time, then a woman answers who insists nobody is there, and she cannot speak EnglishApart from the emotional suffering of my grandson – he is suffering from depression at this stage – and all the costs incurred -I have paid R10 000 deposit to the XCell Center – for treatment which never took placeand they have just disappeared into thin air – shocking!Surely there are other families in the same situation? This is daylight robbery to say the leastThe names of everyone at the Center should be published across the internet – in order to prevent these “professionals” to ever do business anywhere again – as long as they liveI cannot explain the immense pain and heartache to see my dearest grandson suffer as he is suffering currently. He used to be such a happy, smiling young boy prior to this shocking experienceThese guys will have to please explain one day soon – and I certainly do not want to be in their shoes when it gets to the explaining bit…Elmarie Bouwer, South Africa

  3. Stem Cell Network admin says:

    Elmarie,Your story is indeed unfortunate, thank you for sharing it. If there are any significant updates to this or related issues, we will post on this blog. In the meantime, we hope you are successful in obtaining a return on your deposit and that your grandson regains some of his former happiness.

  4. SueSan Ghaemmaghami says:

    WOW! My daughter’s experience at the Xcell Center in Dusseldorf was amazing. She had astem cell transplant with very happy improvements. I was planning on returning.Very disappointed that it is closed. With so manypatients doing the lumbar pucture and stem celltransplant without complications! I would neverhave chosen to have stem cells injection any other way than a lumbar pucture….

  5. Stem cell therapy believer says:

    I read all of the negative comments about stem cell therapy provided by X-Cell Center in the past. Then is there any reason, why NIH would condone stem cell therapy based clinical study for eye diseases?
    Do these doctors have to go thru’ rigorous peer review process or not?

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