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Warning about unproven stem cell treatments for COVID-19

March 26, 2020

An important message from the Centre for Stem Cell Systems, University of Melbourne, shared with permission:

We join the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT) in raising concern about the marketing of unproven stem cell therapies to treat people infected with Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

While stem cell research shows promise for numerous diseases and conditions, there currently are no approved stem cell-based approaches for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infection.

Despite the unmet need at this challenging time, we need to continue to insist that new therapies are appropriately tested and authorised prior to their use.

Clinics claiming that expensive stem cell products can protect people or cause miraculous improvements for those suffering from COVID-19 should be viewed with caution.

Legitimate clinical trials are underway to evaluate a range of interventions, from drugs to vaccines and cellular therapies. It remains too early to know if these will work or are safe. Experimental interventions should only be explored under expert medical care and as part of recognised clinical investigation.

Anyone trying to find ways to prevent COVID-19 infection or to seek treatment is urged to speak to their doctor and consult the Australian Government website, or the World Health Organisation’s dedicated Coronavirus website. For information, updates and advice about the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Victoria, please visit the state government Department of Health website.

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About the International Society for Stem Cell Research (

Founded in 2002, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is a global, non-profit organization that promotes excellence in stem cell science and applications to human health. A community of more than 4,000 stem cell scientists, clinicians, business leaders, ethicists, and educators from 67 countries worldwide, ISSCR members are dedicated to upholding the society’s guidelines for responsible and ethical practice.

About the International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (

Established in 1992, the International Society for Cell & Gene Therapy (ISCT) is a global society of clinicians, regulators, researchers, technologists and industry partners with a shared vision to translate cellular and gene therapy into safe and effective therapies to improve patients’ lives worldwide. Comprised of over 1700 cell and gene therapy experts across five geographic regions and representation from over 60 countries, ISCT members are part of a global community of peers, thought leaders and organizations invested in cell and gene therapy translation.

About the Centre for Stem Cell Systems (

The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Stem Cell Systems was established in 2016 to develop a highly interdisciplinary research environment; a training path in stem cell biology at undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and to foster partnerships with government, professional bodies and community advocates to understand the expectations and barriers to delivering stem cell medicine.

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