New Horizons in Science

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The Wild West of stem cell therapy

Topic: Science + Science Writing
human embryonic stem cells
by Nissim Benvenisty
Sunday, October 14, 2018 -
10:05am to 11:05am
Lisner Auditorium

Twenty years ago, in November 1998, human embryonic stem (ES) cells were introduced to the world. Derived in a nondescript laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, the master cells of human development sparked immediate hope for an inexhaustible supply of cells for therapy to potentially treat conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injury, and other disorders.

Embryonic stem cells are now widely used in research and for industrial applications such as drug screening. Their use in the clinic has lagged, but as of late 2017 at least 18 clinical trials in six countries have been launched to test the therapeutic efficacy of ES cells. In the meantime, the advent of induced pluripotent stem cells, where skin and other adult cells are genetically reprogrammed to behave like stem cells, coupled with a dearth of regulation, has enabled unproven treatments to come to market, in some cases with tragic consequences. This session will explore the Wild West landscape of stem cell therapy and how to separate legitimate science from snake oil.

Social media hashtag: #WildWestStemCells
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