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Stem cell doctor misconduct hearing underway

15 February 2010
Appeared in BioNews 545

The UK's General Medical Council (GMC) is hearing evidence of a Dutch clinic that supplied stem cell therapies to British patients alleged to be not 'intended for human use'.

Dr Robert Trossel, originally from Saudi Arabia, operates the Preventief Medisch Centrum (PMC) clinic in Rotterdam, which opened in the 1980s. He registered with the GMC in 1992 and entered into a licensing agreement with Biomark, which later became Advanced Cell Therapeutics (ACT), to provide stem cell treatments, the Telegraph newspaper reports. ACT's South African owners were later investigated by the United States' FDA and FBI for providing unproven therapies.

The hearing comes after an undercover reporter working on behalf of BBC Newsnight investigated the clinic's operations and claimed they were offered therapies involving stem cells derived for the laboratory and not intended for human use. The GMC, sitting in London, has heard that nine patients, most who have progressive multiple sclerosis, visited Dr Trossel. Seven were injected with a substance that was said to contain stem cells.

Giving evidence, Dr Trossel told the GMC that in offering stem cell therapies it was generally 'worth a try,' although he admitted the muscular sclerosis group was 'one of the more difficult treatment groups,' the Telegraph reports. He said that, at times, the clinic offered stem cell therapies to over 30 per cent of its patients.

The British patients paid thousands of pounds to travel to Dr Trossel's clinic to undergo treatment which the GMC has heard was given despite 'no evidence' that the substance used contained stem cells or was safe for human use. Dr Trossel said the patients may need more time to benefit from the treatment.

Representing Dr Trossel, Robert Jay QC said that the issue to be decided by the GMC was whether the treatment was justifiable having regard to all the clinical evidence, the Telegraph writes. Dr Trossel denies the allegations being made against him.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Doctor says stem cell treatment for MS was 'worth a try' despite no evidence it worked
The Telegraph |  9 February 2010
Stem cells 'weren't for human use'
The Press Association |  10 February 2010
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