Fraudulent cell therapy an objective ethics problem in biomedicine
One major ethical problem in the field of cell therapy is the fraud that can be committed by proposing the use of treatments that have not been proven to be clinically effective. This fraud can be especially serious when attempts are made to apply the therapy to diseases that are difficult or impossible to treat using conventional techniques, as patients with these types of conditions are willing to undergo any type of therapy. Many of these fraudulent practices have occurred in countries where there is no strict healthcare control, but they have also been reported in developed countries. One such case in Italy has now been published in Nature (510; 333-335,2014).
The italian case
Two Italian experts in cell therapy research have denounced the Stamina Foundation, which apparently not only offers therapies that have not been properly tested, but is also receiving large amounts of financial aid from the Italian Government for carrying out their therapeutic projects.
The Stamina Foundation is led by Davide Vannoni, who without any specific medical training, has been offering cell treatments for various diseases such as Parkinson’s, muscular dystrophies and spinal cord atrophies since 2011, although the centre’s methods have never been published in accredited scientific journals. The Foundation has had a troubled history since then, with approval and financial support from some health authorities on one hand, but protests from medical professionals and institutions on the other. In April 2014, the Italian judiciary accused the Stamina Foundation of medical fraud, and the professionals who worked there of criminal conspiracy.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.