Which Stem Cell Therapies Are Allowed Within the EU?

A patient asks about therapies with stem cells:

I have heard from the media that not all of the theoretically possible types of stem cell therapies are allowed or permitted in Germany, is that right?

Yes, this information is correct. Within the EU – and therewith also in Germany – there are only treatments allowed in which the patient’s stem cells are isolated and immediately afterwards injected again into body parts of the same person, for example through local injections into affected tissues and organs or systematically by the means of infusion.

In our clinic we only perform these permitted types of stem cell therapies for treatments of joint problems, organic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, in specific nervous disorders, and for regeneration of tissue, skin, and hair. Stem cells needed for these therapies are obtained from a small amount of the patient’s own body fat. These treatments are performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia.

Other types of stem cell therapy bring along legal obstacles within the EU. These therapies include, among others, treatments with donated stem cells or embryonic stem cells (ES cells), but also modification of autologous cells or stem cells through reprogramming, for example induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) or artificial expansion of the cells. These therapies are only allowed to be performed in some countries outside the EU.

DDr. Heinrich, MD

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