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Cell therapy - new possibilities in medicine or marketing myth?

On October 19, 2017, the panel discussion "Cell therapy - new possibilities in medicine or marketing myth?" was organized by iVF Riga Clinic and iVF Riga Stem Cell Centre in the Albert Hotel (Riga). This event brought together more than 30 participants including iVF Riga clinic specialists; Alexandra Aizenshtadt, PhD in Cell Biology (Norway); Dr. Moshe Israeli, PhD in transplant immunology, Director of the Tissue typing laboratory of the Beilinson Hospital, Rabin Medical Center, Israel; Günther Löscher, International Management Consultant from MTC-GmbH Management Consulting, Austria; Ēriks Jakobsons, Head of the Cell transplantation centre (Pauls Stradins University Hospital, Latvia); Mārtiņš Šics, Saeima deputy; Jana Matuzala, head of the diagnostic center "Ars", as well as biologists, doctors and journalists.

The main topics of discussion were the possibilities of cell therapy, quality control, good manufacturing practice, ethical aspects.

Discussion moderator Juris Šteinbergs, molecular geneticist from "GenEra" and a well-known TV presenter of the program "Without Taboos", pointed out that the purpose of this discussion is to bring together scientists and specialists to discuss current issues and show how difficult it is to work in the field of stem cells, and also asked whether Latvia is ready to work with stem cells. 

iVF Riga clinic Medical director Dr. Violeta Fodina noted that it is necessary to educate people, explain to them what stem cells are, what help they can provide to the patients, and emphasized
that it is very important to talk about the safety of cells. We need to understand what problems exist in this field in Latvia, and how they can be solved. To start treatment with stem cells in this country, experience is very important; therefore, it is necessary to learn from foreign colleagues.

During the discussion, experts explained what stem cells are, what the possibilities of stem cell therapy are. Alexandra Aizenshtadt emphasized that the treatment with blood stem cells is not tomorrow, not even today, but already yesterday, and such therapy is the first choice in the treatment of blood diseases. There are numerous clinical studies related to stem cells in the world today, and they are controlled by the standards of good manufacturing practices (GMP).

Mr. Günther Löscher emphasized that when treating with stem cells, it is important to follow the rules of good manufacturing practice (GMP), because the final product must be safe, efficient and quality.

Dr. Moshe Israeli noted that cell therapy is changing and progressing, but many ethical aspects must be considered. There are different opinions and arguments in the world now, which creates a big resonance, so it's hard to say what is good and what's bad. However, the stem cell direction develops and moves forward, and all those who are interested in this field need to join their efforts and make a dialogue.

Ēriks Jakobsons, speaking about the application of stem cells in Latvia, acknowledged that, unfortunately, the creation of such therapy in this country goes very slow and difficult, since the State Agency of Medicines (ZVA) has not yet developed the requirements, so the discussion continues.

Juris Šteinbergs, summing up the discussion, expressed the wish to gather more often in order to educate as much as possible the public, as well as politicians. Stem cells are not magic; it is a normal medical procedure that is carried out with the mandatory application of in-depth studies and under the strict quality control.


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