Beike Biotech, the stem cell clinic in Qingdao, China where toddler Dakota Clarke from Northern Ireland underwent stem cell treatment, responds to Panorama:
We are happy that Dakota Clarke was evaluated following their return home. Although we wish the results of the tests had verified the improvements that were seen by the parents (and, we expect, also your BBC camera crew), we know that two tests with differing equipment can yield equivocal results.
Most parents of treated children witnessed significant progress during, and for several months after, their treatments in China. Certainly the evaluation you commissioned gives us pause for thought for the design of our own clinical trials. We are currently preparing two clinical studies, one to be monitored in the US (from where - to date - most of our patients have come), and another in China.
Although ONH and SOD (septo-optic dysplasia) are very rare conditions - we understand there are only a handful of cases in Northern Ireland - our stem cells have have already been used to treat 60+ patients. News of treatment success travels fast amongst parents in a similar situation. These parents came to us, having been given no hope of improvement by their own doctors. We are glad that we were able to give most of them a significant step forward in their child's development.
Our website contains a host of individual case studies. We aim at being as transparent as possible. We advise patients of the realistic chances of success. Many of our patients have come against the advice of their own medical teams, which puts great pressure on them. We understand that a physician is duty bound to protect their patients from uninformed choices. We also believe that it is a physician's moral and professional duty as a scientist to follow-up and report on the outcome of such a groundbreaking treatment.
We are a research-based medical enterprise. We exclusively use stem cells from umbilical cord blood donated by mothers who have been properly monitored and tested. Our leading experience in this field could benefit institutions in the UK and Ireland, who have not yet had the opportunity to carry out stem cell procedures. We would welcome the opportunity to cooperate.
We enjoyed the company of Cody and her parents. We wish her well for the future and will follow her development with great interest.
Signed, Dr Sean Hu.