Deerfield, IL, January 11, 2012 —The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) welcomes yesterday’s announcement by China’s Ministry of Health, initiating a year-long campaign to more tightly regulate the use of stem cell treatments. The announcement ordered an immediate halt to unapproved stem cell treatments and puts applications for new trials on hold until July 1, 2012.
“This is a timely announcement as China is making significant investments in the stem cell field. The new initiatives will provide the necessary oversight for not only the current clinical practices, but also clinical trials and translational research activities. Hopefully, new and emerging stem cell technologies will be translated rapidly into real benefits for patients under the new regulatory environment in China,” says Duanqing Pei, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“It is a good sign that the Chinese Government is very serious about this issue,” agrees Hongkui Deng, ISSCR Board of Directors Member and Peking University. “In the near future, an urgent action for the Chinese government is to formulate detailed regulation specific for stem cell-based therapies.”
“China is a growing force in stem cell research and medicine and we support their move towards ensuring the responsible implementation of stem cell treatments,” says Fred H. Gage, ISSCR President and Salk Institute. “Stem cells offer enormous promise for the treatment of a wide range of diseases and conditions, but we are still learning how to harness this potential. There are only a small number of stem cell treatments that have been shown to be beneficial in responsible clinical trials so far.”
The ISSCR is concerned that stem cell treatments are being marketed to patients worldwide for a variety of medical conditions without the safeguards in place to ensure safety or likely benefit. In 2008, the ISSCR released professional Guidelines for the Clinical Translation of Stem Cells that call for rigorous standards in the development of stem cell treatments, including stringent evaluation and oversight. Oversight from national agencies is a crucial component, and the ISSCR continues to urge governments and regulatory bodies to enact the recommendations outlined in these guidelines.
Patients, their families and doctors are encouraged to visit the ISSCR’s web resource “A Closer Look at Stem Cell Treatments” at www.closerlookatstemcells.org.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application.