ITALY – Undersecretary Fazio: against freedom of choice for autologous conservation of children’s stem cells by parents

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Italian Welfare Undersecretary Ferruccio Fazio disapproves of private biobanks and is clearly in favor of the “allogenic” conservation of umbilical cord stem cells, meaning the conservation of stem cells saved for the exclusive use of the donor-patient. Speaking about a government report on “the appropriate use of umbilical cord stem cells”, Fazio outlined the government’s approach on the issue. A few weeks after a ministerial decree dictating new regulations for umbilical cord conservation, Fazio explained autologous donation, meaning conservation of stem cells for yourself, “is not only less useful, but also less efficient as science has demonstrated”.

The only exception allowed by the ministerial decree is “the conservation of umbilical cord blood to be used by families with children who are at risk for diseases that are genetically determined, which are scientifically proven and clinically approved to be treated with umbilical cord stem cells upon presenting clinical documentation released by a specialist”. From a scientific standpoint, underlined Fazio, “the use of hematopoietic stem cells for allogenic transplants creates another advantage because these stem cells eliminate diseased cells that remain after chemotherapy or radiotherapy, thanks the ability of special white blood cells from the donor to recognize them as foreign and destroy the residual diseased cells, performing an actual ‘cellular therapy’. This effect of hematopoietic stem cells transplants is known as ‘Graft versus Leukemia’.

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