DOH warns public vs stem cell therapiesBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Health Secretary Enrique Ona on Friday warned the public against stem cell therapies, which are becoming popular here and abroad.
Ona said stem cell therapies were still “under clinical evaluation and study” and the public should particularly avoid therapies that use embryonic stem cells, those from aborted fetuses, and genetically-altered and animal fresh cells.
“While research has shown that adult stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells are the safest and most ethical, the public is warned that claims of preventive and curative benefits of stem cell therapy are still on their investigative stage,” Ona said in a statement.
“Thus, the Department of Health (DOH) advises the public to be cautious with stem cell therapies being promoted in the media or through word of mouth. DOH will soon issue guidelines for the use of stem cell therapy and the process of licensing facilities offering such services,” he added.
Ona said the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DOH were drafting standards and regulations to ensure public safety and address ethical concerns regarding the use of stem cells in research and medicine.
He noted that there was an increasing demand worldwide for the use of stem cells “as therapy in oncology, end-organ diseases and regenerative medicine.”
“In the Philippines, there is observed proliferation of ‘centers’ offering stem cell treatments for medical and aesthetic purposes. Although this technology holds promise, stem cell therapy is not yet part of standard of care and is considered an investigative procedure for compassionate use,” Ona said.
He said the use of stem cells for the treatment of malignancies, blood disorders, degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease, metabolic diseases like diabetes, and immune cell therapy were still under clinical evaluation.
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