Questions and Answers around Stem Cell Research

The Centre for Brain Research was privileged to host, on Wednesday 6 June, the first New Zealand session of a travelling seminar which began in Australia, called Stem Cells: Hope, Hype, and Progress.

Attendees at the seminar, including those suffering from debilitating neurological conditions, were able to a hear a refreshingly honest account of the current state of stem cell research worldwide – free from the sensationalism of those accounts which often feature in the press.

The challenges of finding, collecting, and culturing varying kinds of stem cells (and the ethical procedures surrounding this) were discussed, along with the different potentials each offered for laboratory work or therapeutics.

The take-home message of the day, from the three presenters, was that stem cells’ greatest promise, at this point in time, lay in what they could teach those scientists culturing them about the ‘everyday’ activities of the cell, and as a medium for drug discovery to treat currently untreatable conditions, rather than as direct therapeutic agents.