Domenica, 19 Maggio 2019
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ROME

Discredited stem-cell funding earmarked for rare diseases

English
© ANSA

Rome, April 16 - Three million euros due to be
spent on the discredited 'Stamina' stem-cell treatment should be
diverted to rare-disease research, Health Minister Beatrice
Lorenzin said Wednesday.
"If the results of the first scientific committee are
confirmed the three million euros foreseen for experimenting on
Stamina will be made available for research into rare diseases,"
the minister told a group of rare-disease patients she met at
the Rome Polyclinic Hospital.
Earlier this month local health authorities in Brescia
decided to suspend Stamina treatments on grounds they were
fraudulent.
Italy's health ministry announced in October that the
Stamina Foundation - the foundation that developed the treatment
- would not be allowed to test it on humans.
The foundation was also stripped of its non-profit status
after a study found its treatment was "ignorant of stem-cell
biology".
The head of the foundation, Davide Vannoni, a former
psychology lecturer, was indicted earlier this year for alleged
attempted fraud against the Piedmont Region.
The Stamina Foundation had asked for 500,000 euros of
funding to develop a stem-cell laboratory, a request prosecutors
argue was fraudulent because the efficacy of the treatment has
been "completely disproved".
The Stamina treatment involves extracting bone-marrow stem
cells from a patient, turning them into neurons by exposing them
to retinoic acid for two hours, and injecting them back into the
patient.
Supporters of the therapy thought it could be a cure for
fatal degenerative nerve diseases such as spinal muscular
atrophy, while detractors said it was devoid of scientific
merit.
A panel of experts appointed by Italy's health ministry
said in January it found the therapy seriously lacking in both
premise and practice.

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