Fri, Jul 12, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Ministry to approve more cell therapies

SHIFTING FOCUS:One hospital could be Taiwan’s first to offer non-cancer-related stem-cell therapy and the goal remains to expand treatment to allogeneic transplants

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Wednesday said that it would soon issue approval for another two hospitals in Taiwan to offer stem-cell therapies, as part of the nation’s efforts to excel in that area of treatment.

Shin Kong International Healthcare Center in Taipei, one of the two hospitals, is likely to be approved for non-cancer-related cell therapy, which would be a first in Taiwan, Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said at a news conference at the hospital.

He did not name the other facility, saying only that the ministry is likely to grant approval to two hospitals within a month.

“Cell therapy is another choice of treatment, but it is not a panacea,” Shih said, adding that the results of cell therapy differ among patients and could be expensive.

Tri-Service General Hospital and China Medical University Hospital are the only two health establishments in the nation currently allowed to provide cell therapies, but only for cancer-related conditions.

Stem-cell therapy for blood cancers, strokes and degenerative joint diseases, in addition to other conditions, are permitted in Taiwan under the Regulations Governing the Application of Specific Medical Examination Techniques and Medical Devices (特定醫療技術檢查檢驗醫療儀器施行或使用管理辦法), which was amended in September last year.

Since then, 26 hospitals and clinics have applied for permission to provide stem-cell therapy, primarily for the treatment of cancer, degenerative joint diseases and skin problems, ministry statistics showed.

Only autologous cell therapy — which uses the patient’s own cells — is being conducted in Taiwan, Shih said, but added that the goal is to progress to allogeneic cell therapy, in which cells from a donor can be used, as the nation is seeking to excel in the field of stem-cell therapy.

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