First and foremost, the new international guidelines on stem cells, with four Italians among the authors, need to be clear, eliminating false illusions, incredible exaggerations, and confusion due to excess emphasis placed on the therapeutic properties of adult stem cells compared to embryonic stem cells.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has decided to impart some order in a field of research which, for various reasons, is growingly involved in issues that have little to do with research.
“Regulation is necessary,” according to the Society, commenting about studies that risk creating exaggerated controversy or omitting risks regarding stem cell therapy. “Over 30 researchers from some of the most prestigious centers in the world signed the guidelines, which were published yesterday in Cell Stem Cell magazine. Michele De Luca, the director of the Center of Regenerative Medicine of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said, “Guidelines are important because the rules that western countries impose on this type of research are not always observed in developing countries like China, India, Korea. De Luca was one of the Italian authors of the guidelines along with Elena Cattaneo of the University of Milan, Giulio Cossu of the Department of Biotechnology (DIBIT) of San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, and Marina Cavazzana Calvo, of the University of Paris.
De Luca continued, “Often there are patients that follow the mirage of inexistent, uncontrolled therapies, or therapies that have not yet been approved by the international scientific community, to make long journeys and pay high costs for therapies that have not yet been scientifically validated.”
The other objective of the guidelines, he added, “is to clarify the regulations, in this moment of confusion about potential therapies for adult and embryonic stem cells”. According to De Luca and the other authors of the international guidelines, “to say that cells taken from adult tissues are able to cure something is an absolutely unfounded allegation. It is correct to evaluate all of the possibilities, both based on adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Regulation in this sense is of fundamental importance to avoid misunderstandings.” Too often “unscientific and unfounded allegations are based on personal motivations, financial requests, and even ignorance.”
Clarity is, according to the authors of the guidelines, a decisive step to “underline what is necessary to accelerate changing stem cells from a promising therapy to a true clinical treatment.
Our objective, wrote the writers, “is to give patients and doctors the necessary tools to make better decisions concerning these types of treatments.”