ROME—The controversy surrounding an unproven stem cell therapy in Italy may be drawing to a close. Italy’s Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin announced yesterday that Stamina, the Turin-based nonprofit foundation that developed the treatment, will not be allowed to test it on humans—at least not in Italy.
The so-called Stamina method is a treatment based on bone marrow stem cells that Stamina’s President Davide Vannoni claims can grow new neurons under specific conditions and hence cure several neurodegenerative diseases. However, while thousands of patients still support Stamina and its treatment, scientists believe the method has no scientific basis. In May, the government passed legislation providing €3 million for the treatment to undergo a clinical trial. But in July, Lorenzin ordered Stamina to release its scientific files concerning the treatment for scrutiny by a committee of scientific experts to assess if the method is safe and effective enough to enter human trials.
On 12 September, media reported that the experts had unanimously rejected the method, although the reasons behind the rejection were not released to the public. Now, a decree from the Ministry of Health states that the committee’s rejection was based on the following: