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Article Released Wed-11th-April-2012 14:57 GMT
Contact: Nature Publishing Group Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 China struggles to regulate unproven stem-cell treatments

Latest press release from Nature, 11 April 2012

Three months after the Chinese Ministry of Health ramped up its efforts to enforce a ban on the clinical use of unapproved stem-cell treatments, a Nature investigation reveals that businesses around the country are still charging patients thousands of dollars for these unproven therapies.

The clinics operate openly, with websites promoting the treatments for serious disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and autism, and attract thousands of medical tourists from overseas. They advertise case studies of individual patients who they say have benefited from the treatments, but none has published data from controlled clinical trials ― the gold standard for any new treatment. Leading stem-cell scientists insist that such therapies are not ready for the clinic and say that some may even endanger patients’ health.

When pressed, all of the stem-cell clinics approached by Nature said that they were aware of the government regulations, and that they were necessary — but only for other clinics that were not operating safely. A Ministry of Health representative told Nature that it was aware of the problem, and that it would be making greater efforts to clean up the stem-cell business.


For follow up interviews with the reporter on this story, please contact David Cyranoski in Tokyo on: d.cyranoski@natureasia.com

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Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a publisher of high impact scientific and medical information in print and online. NPG publishes journals, online databases and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences and clinical medicine.

Focusing on the needs of scientists, Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading weekly, international scientific journal. In addition, for this audience, NPG publishes a range of Nature research journals and Nature Reviews journals, plus a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. Online, nature.com provides over 5 million visitors per month with access to NPG publications and online databases and services, including Nature News and NatureJobs plus access to Nature Network and Nature Education’s Scitable.com.

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Throughout all its businesses NPG is dedicated to serving the scientific and medical communities and the wider scientifically interested general public. Part of Macmillan Publishers Limited, NPG is a global company with principal offices in London, New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Boston, Buenos Aires, Delhi, Hong Kong, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Heidelberg, Basingstoke, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul and Washington DC. For more information, please go to www.nature.com.

Neda Afsarmanesh
Press Officer

Nature Publishing Group
75 Varick St, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10013, USA
t: (212) 726-9231
f: (646) 563-7117
e: n.afsarmanesh@us.nature.com

Associated links

Keywords associated to this article: Nature, stem cells, China, health, research, ethics
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