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1 posts from December 2009

December 11, 2009

Ethical and legal questions important in moving stem cell therapies to clinic

iPS cells give us an unprecedented opportunity to create patient- and disease-specific cells. Labs around the world have demonstrated that iPS cells can generate disease-specific cells for illnesses such as muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s and type 1 diabetes, among many others. Generating these specific cell cultures is greatly advancing stem cell research by allowing researchers to more readily test potential drugs or other cell treatments for these diseases.

Often, when new technologies emerge, public attention is drawn to the unanswered questions – the “what if?” scenarios. It is precisely because we don’t have all the answers that discussions such as what took place at the iPS Workshop in Barcelona (highlighted this week in a Cell commentary are so critically important. Understanding the possible potential of a new technology together with its legal, ethical and political implications allows us to develop a framework for responsibly advancing the science. It further allows us to work towards a global consensus on the best way to move forward. This is important so that when the work in the labs has found the answers – for example, a cell therapy that could cure muscular dystrophy or a drug that could reverse Parkinson’s disease – we will hopefully not be impeded by social or ethical divides.

Read the Stem Cell Network news release

Read the article in the National Post