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Italian stem cell ‘doctor’ selling snake oil to sick kids

| | June 18, 2014

A three-year-old Italian boy who suffers from a rare and incurable degenerative disorder called Krabbe disease received a stem cell injection last Saturday. It was his sixth dose, and according to the person who developed the treatment, Davide Vannoni, the boy has obtained “very good results.” Under normal circumstances, any claims of improvement in this boy’s ability to move around and develop mentally would be more than welcome. But Vannoni’s assertions — that his stem cell injections can reverse the effects of any number of fatal diseases — aren’t supported by peer-reviewed studies or clinical trials. And he isn’t backed by a drug company or a university either.

In fact, outside of his small circle of associates, he has received very little support from the scientific community. Yet his organization, a nonprofit called the Stamina Foundation, has treated more than 100 patients since 2007 — and at least 14 of those treatments were paid for by the Italian government.

“They claim that they are able to isolate mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow of patients simply by using a drill,” says Elena Cattaneo, a pharmacologist and the director of UniStem, the University of Milan’s Centre for Stem Cell Research. “And then they have been claiming that they’re able to transform these mesenchymal stem cells in 20 minutes into neural stem cells,” to restore a person’s neural functioning. This is impossible, she says, adding “I spent my life generating neurons from stem cells. All this makes no sense.”

Read the full, original story: Meet the con man selling fake stem cell treatments to children

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