Siccacell therapy in Down's syndrome

M. Armoni, M. Schlesinger, S. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Injection of fresh or dry cells obtained from various organs of fetal or young animals (Siccacell) has been advocated as a panacea for all sorts of illnesses and for aging for almost 50 years. During the past 30 years, groups (mainly in Europe under the direction of Prof. Schmid of Aschaffenberg, W. Germany) have been using cell therapy for the treatment of Down's syndrome and/or mental deficiency. They published many articles describing the beneficial effects of the treatment. However, these articles were unscientific and did not include controls, were without statistical evaluation and were usually based on unacceptable physiological, immunological and biological premises. Most publications were in journals not found in standard medical and biological catalogues, such as the 'Cytobiological Review' whose editor is Prof. Schmid himself, and which is sponsored by the manufacturers of Siccacell. Because the rationale and efficacy of this therapy in Down's syndrome have been questioned, the claims of the protagonists were studied by responsible authorities in W. Germany, Switzerland, USA and Israel (twice) and found wanting or without basis. Its use is banned in the USA, but not in W. Germany, the reason for the expensive pilgrimages of unfortunate and ill-informed patients and their families to Aschaffenberg. Clinically there is no scientific evidence that a course of Siccacell therapy has any therapeutic effect. The auxiliary program which accompanies the course of injections includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy and didactic instruction and may be the reason for the subjective improvement reported in some patients. Controlled studies by those not connected with the group in W. Germany have not found any difference between treated and untreated patients. Furthermore, the repeated injection of the foreign animal protein of the cells is immunologically dangerous and probably unethical and would be unlikely to be permitted by Helsinki committees. A case of encephalitis, possibly immunological, which developed in an Israeli with Down's syndrome shortly after receiving Siccacell therapy, is reported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-68+112
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1985
Externally publishedYes


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