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Genetics

11 August 2009

Stem cells – hope or hype?

Stem cell technology offers the promise of curing the incurable – but for the moment lives are being lost while the issue is mired in controversy.

After 21 years of unsuccessful heart treatments, including several heart procedures, 68-year-old Coenie de Jongh was desperate. So when his cardiologist suggested a last-resort experimental therapy, it represented a literal life line.

At that stage, Dr Andre Saaiman from Kuils River Hospital was conducting research involving the use of stem cells*. He was inspired by the work done by Prof Philippe Menasche from France, who had figured out a way to inject stem cells derived from skeletal muscle into failing hearts.

Financial Mail reported that, in its absence, researchers have to fall back on the Human Tissue Act of 1983. "This was published when many of the complex issues that require rules and guidelines were not yet part of the scientific landscape," Razina Munshi writes.

 

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