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British lab working with controversial stem cell doctor

16 April 2012
Appeared in BioNews 652

A commercial London laboratory is working with a clinic in Lebanon that uses medical techniques that are not verified by the medical community, and fall outside most countries' legal parameters.

The Cells4health clinic is run by Dr Cornelis Kleinbloesem, former owner of the XCell-Center in Germany, which was shut down in 2011 after a child died following a stem cell injection into his brain, according to the Telegraph. A legal loophole is now allowing Dr Kleinbloesem to operate his clinic in Beirut.

Dr Kleinbloesem's clinic takes cells from the patient's bone marrow and sends them to the UK Precious Cells laboratory for processing. After this, the stem cells are sent back to Lebanon and injected into the patient to regenerate damaged tissue. Precious Cells is licensed by the Human Tissue Authority to extract and bank stem cells, but could not legally use them to treat patients in the UK.

Lab owner Dr Husein Salem told the Sunday Telegraph he has confidence in Dr Kleinbloesem's abilities, and having visited Cells4health in Beirut, said he would recommend this clinic.

'We are involved in research and development in Beirut', Dr Salem told the Telegraph. 'The current situation is a lot of treatments are not approved in the UK. They are not clinically proven. You have to go to Beirut for treatment. There was a centre in Germany but they shut down'.

He added: 'If we felt it wasn't right we would end our contract'.

People are made aware that the methods, costing tens of thousands of pounds, are unproven and that there is no guarantee of success. However, there are concerns surrounding Dr Kleinbloesem's previous clinic in Germany, where an 18-month-old patient died and a ten-year-old almost died after treatment in 2011.

Furthermore, some believe the clinic could take advantage of people at their most susceptible. In 2010 Ms Ira Herrmann, head of the German stem cell network, spoke to News Point South Africa about the previous clinic, saying: 'XCell was offering unproven treatments and taking a lot of money from very vulnerable people'.

Dr Kleinbloesem claims that powerful lobby groups are battling his revolutionary treatment for economic reasons. In an email to patients he said: 'Our work which has all our spirit and was our life was ruined by false accusations'.

He went on to describe his clinic's passion for adult stem cell therapy, saying they 'love this work to be able to help many patients around the globe, who are desperate for this breakthrough treatment'.

Controversial Stem Cell Clinic
News Point South Africa |  8 April 2012
Controversial stem cell doctor takes advantage of legal loophole to have samples from his patients processed in the UK
Daily Mail |  8 April 2012
Europe's largest stem cell clinic shut down after death of baby
Telegraph |  8 May 2011
Stem cell clinic that 'preyed on the vulnerable’
Telegraph |  8 April 2012
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