Child dies after questionable stem cell therapy



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A severely disabled child dies after stem cell therapy, in which the body's own stem cells are injected into the brain.

After receiving stem cell therapy, a two-year-old child died at a private clinic in Düsseldorf. Now the public prosecutor's office is investigating the doctor responsible, who, however, no longer works in the clinic.

After a controversial stem cell therapy, a severely disabled, two and a half year old child died of massive bleeding. Two other children were saved after the complications that occurred. The doctor treating her is now being investigated for negligent homicide and negligent bodily harm, as a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor's office in Düsseldorf said today. The clinic meanwhile announced that the doctor would no longer treat and work in the clinic. Corresponding media reports have now been confirmed by the private clinic.

Heavy bleeding after stem cell therapy. Background: In August 2010, a medical doctor had already injected stem cells into the brain of a severely disabled two and a half year old child. After the stem cell treatment, the child experienced massive bleeding. The child was then taken to the Krefeld hospital 20 kilometers away. A short time later, the child most likely died of the consequences of the medical intervention. Stem cells were removed from the hip bones of the three boys who had brain damage and injected into the brain.

As the prosecutor announced, the private clinic is currently not being investigated, even though it had the therapy carried out. Although the intervention is highly controversial from a technical point of view, it is not objectionable from a legal perspective. The chosen stem cell therapy for the three children was a “medical experiment” that the parents would have agreed to out of despair and concern. According to media reports, the private clinic advertised the "healing potential" of stem cell therapy. As the clinic announced, all further treatments were stopped in this form. The clinic's lawyer said: "Until the final clarification, no treatments will be carried out in which stem cells are injected into the patient's brain."

Already in June of this year, the treating doctor was targeted by the investigative authorities. At that time, according to the press, the doctor had also used stem cell therapy in a child (9) from Azerbaijan. The child also suffered heavy bleeding here and then had to be admitted to the University Clinic in Düsseldorf. The doctors at the university clinic were just able to save the child.

In the latter case, according to the responsible public prosecutor, it is a child from southern Germany. After the procedure, the child had to be transferred to the university clinic in Heidelberg. The public prosecutor's office did not give any further information on the age and origin of the child. "We suspect that technical errors were made in the treatment," said Kumpa. There is a suspicion that the doctor misplaced the injection. In addition, there is a suspicion that the parents were not properly informed about the possible consequences. "But we also suspect that the parents have not been sufficiently informed about the risks," said the prosecutor. Furthermore, it would be questionable whether such an intervention was justified for the three young patients.

Why is this controversial stem cell therapy allowed to be carried out at all? Many experts and doctors reject this method, in which stem cells are injected into the brain. The Langener Paul Ehrlich Institute, which tests and approves biomedical drugs as a federal agency, has always been very skeptical about this. A recent statement on the method that Xcell practices speaks of "harmful effects" that "go well beyond what is known in medical science." The stem cell competence network from North Rhine-Westphalia was recently very concerned about the treatment method. We are "deeply concerned that some institutions offer stem cell-based therapies, the effects of which have not been proven". The stem cell center classified stem cell injections into the brain as "experimental".

But how is it that such a highly controversial method can be used at all? The reason for this are several gaps in the law. Paragraph 4a of the Medicinal Products Act does not apply when tissue from a patient is removed that is transferred back without "changing the material properties". If there are no more promising therapies available, you can try the therapy. Then procedures may also be used that have not been sufficiently clinically tested. "However, no distinction is made here as to whether it is a medically serious and respectable attempt or whether the focus is on professionalism," Robert Schäfer, managing director of the North Rhine Medical Association, told the WDR. Unfortunately, the Medical Association cannot do anything about this method. However, warn on their own website about the danger of stem cell therapy. During the process, the intention is to work with the investigative authorities. The Medical Association only has the option of restricting or preventing the professional rights of individual physicians. (10/27/2010)

Also read:
Stem cells: criticism of research results
Stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury
Researchers multiply stem cells from umbilical cord blood

Image: Monika Torloxten / pixelio.de

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