Stem Cell Research Scientists to Call for Faster Experimentation
News Feb 27, 2009
Some of Britain’s leading stem-cell research supporters are calling for further tests on human embryos to be speeded up.
Leading British doctors and academics will tell an Oxford conference the opportunities created by the new Human Fertilization and Embryology Act must be acted upon quickly.
Controversial scientific experimentation has been given a recent boost by President Obama, who as one of his first acts on taking office was to relax federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.
Among the speakers at the conference – organized by the Oxford International Biomedical Centre (OIBC) – will be UCL’s Professor Martin Birchall, who cultivated the stem cells used in the first ever successful tracheal transplant.
In his speech, Professor Birchall will warn that the opportunities created by the transplant are being squandered.
“We hope we will encourage others to be more permissive of making the leap from laboratory to patients in the field of tissue engineering,” says Professor Birchall.
“Although our tracheal transplant patient is completely healthy eight months post-operatively, enthusiasm has to be curbed slightly by the need for more patients and more time in follow-up. The recent discovery that unregulated stem cell treatments in Russia are causing tumors reminds us of this. However, this fear of uncertainty must not stop us from trying and must not stop clinical trials.”
For this event the OIBC has teamed up with Oxford University's Dept of Continuing Education and with St Edward's School, the venue for the conference.
"It is particularly appropriate to hold the event at St Edward's," says OIBC's Director, Dr Charles Pasternak, "as the day will conclude with the opening of the school's new £3.4 million state-of-the-art science block by Baroness Ruth Deech, a former Principal of St Anne's College Oxford, and former Chair of the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA)."
The conference has been organized as part of the OIBC’s efforts to promote the understanding of stem cell research and regenerative medicine.
“Now that US government funding has been restored to embryonic stem cell research,” says Dr Pasternak, Director of the OIBC, ”we will no doubt see great scientific advancement, which could not be timelier than in the 200th year of Charles Darwin’s birth. The OIBC for one will be at the very forefront of this evolution.”
Other contributors include Baroness Ruth Deech, who will be addressing top academics with a speech on embryonic stem cell research in the 2nd Dame Anne McLaren Memorial Lecture.
"I welcome the way in which the 2008 Act has opened the doors to further scientific research,” says Baroness Deech, “I thought that the protests against the extension of permission for work with admixed embryos were unwarranted: there is of course no intention of allowing those admixed embryos to grow beyond a few cells, not some man-beast hybrid as the media portrayed."
The OIBC conference will take place at 0930 on Wednesday 4th March 2009 at St Edward’s School, Woodstock Road, Oxford.
A human pluripotent stem cell line has been engineered which contains two ‘suicide genes’ that induce cell death in all but the desired insulin-producing cells. This double fail-safe approach opens the door to creating safe cell-replacement therapies for people living with type 1 diabetes.READ MORE