Lies and hype pushing embryo research agenda: L’Osservatore Romano article

“‘Stem cells’ has become a sort of magic word which produces added value to everything says Augusto Pessina, a professor at the University of Milan.
Tue Jun 14, 2011 - 6:31 pm EST

VATICAN CITY, June 14, 2011 ( – Entitled “Lies do not nurture hope,” an article in today’s Italian edition of L’Osservatore Romano has taken aim at the hype surrounding stem cell research using human embryos, as well as the failure of European governments to properly regulate such research and “therapies” derived from it.

“In stem cell biomedicine, much erroneous information and lies circulate,” writes Augusto Pessina, a professor in the department of Public Health, Microbiology and Virology at the University of Milan.

Embryonic stem cell research and therapies are largely unregulated in Europe, with unproven and outright bogus stem cell “treatments” being offered in private clinics around Europe; officials are only recently starting to crack down, said Pessina.

Such private clinics, he continues, “are often propped up by economic interest, sometimes with philosophical, pseudo-religious or magical overtones.”

Pessina refers specifically to an incident in Germany in which an 18-month-old baby died in October of 2010 from an injection of embryonic stem cells into the brain. In May this year, the German government closed the XClinic which was advertising treatments using embryonic stem cells for cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord conditions.

Pessina writes that this uncontrolled environment stems from a single ethical principle: “that it is lawful to do whatever is technically possible.”

“It is a situation which increases an a-critical mentality that demonizes any attempt at regulation as anti-scientific and opposed to progress.

“‘Stem cells’ has become a sort of magic word which produces added value to everything: from cosmetics to the most absurd therapeutic possibilities,” he wrote.

Pessina praised a recent French ban on the use of embryo-derived stem cells in direct therapies, noting that the decision garnered protests “as obscurantist and against freedom of research.”

“The French law represents a courageous choice for the safeguarding of the dignity of the human person.”

To avoid the proliferation of bogus stem cell treatments and unscrupulous clinics, Pessina has said that “a system of controls and verification should be put in place as well as correct and honest dissemination of information.”

Read the full article here.

  embryonic stem cells, l'osservatore romano, stem cells

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