World | Philippines

Philippine-based group warns on stem cell medicine

Catholic Church should unite with health practitioners and put and end to practice, group says

  • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
  • Published: 13:39 February 24, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: A Philippine-based group has aired concern over the dangers of stem cell treatment as it warned of the possibility that materials being used for such procedures could have been extracted from hapless donors, particularly human foetuses.

Dr Leo Olarte, spokesman of the Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine, said they were alarmed over reports coming locally and from abroad that some stem cell materials were being taken from the unborn.

At the same time he called on the Department of Health to carefully watch stem cell treatment practitioners. The Catholic Church, he said, should unite with health practitioners and put an end to such practices.

Olarte was quoted as saying in reports that allogenic stem cells from aborted foetuses of humans were being exported to the Philippines.

“We cannot stand by and merely watch how they exploit people in poverty just to profit while allowing others who are economically well off to benefit from this,” he said.

He said there were reports that human stem cells from foetuses and female egg cells were being used in anti-ageing procedures and other medical treatments.

Olarte is also concerned over the sale of supposedly stem cell products that come in the form of injectibles and even soaps.

“Don’t patronise those products. An example is the stem cell soap. It is unfair that stem cell therapy becomes a quackery,” he said.

Earlier, Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona led a national convention participated in by doctors to discuss the truth behind stem cell therapy.

The two-day national convention, which took place on January 16-17 had the theme “The Truth and Fallacies about Stem Cell Therapy.”

“We owe it to our patients and the general public to ensure that proper information and guidance regarding this novel medical approach is available. To protect themselves and their loved ones, the public must know the most current and accurate information about stem cells and its various applications, including some of which are purely experimental. We must ensure that only safe and ethical uses of stem cells are being used in the Philippines,” Ona said in his address.

“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. Applications of stem cells for the treatment of malignancies, blood disorders, degenerative diseases, metabolic diseases, and immune cell therapy are still under clinical evaluation and study,” he said.

He said Filipinos should avoid receiving cell preparations that are being offered in the Philippines and elsewhere, such as embryonic, aborted fetal, genetically altered and animal stem cells.

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