Worldwide, there is an increasing demand for the use of stem cells as therapy in oncology, end-organ diseases and regenerative medicine.
In the Philippines, there is observed proliferation of “centers” offering stem cell treatments for medical and aesthetic purposes. Although this technology holds promise, stem cell therapy is not yet part of standard of care and is considered an investigative procedure for compassionate use. Applications of stem cells for the treatment of malignancies, blood disorders, degenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease), metabolic diseases (e.g., diabetes), and immune cell therapy are still under clinical evaluation and study.
While research has shown that adult stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells are the safest and most ethical, the public is warned that claims of preventive and curative benefits of stem cell therapy are still on their investigative stage. Thus, the Department of Health (DOH) advises the public to be cautious with stem cell therapies being promoted in the media or through word of mouth. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DOH are currently drafting standards and regulations to ensure the safety of the public as well as address ethical concerns regarding the use of stem cells in research and medicine
The public is strongly advised to avoid stem cell therapies which use the following as sources for stem cells: embryonic stem cells, aborted fetuses, genetically-altered and animal fresh cells.
DOH will soon issue guidelines for the use of stem cell therapy and the process of licensing facilities offering such services.