April 16, 2024

Skirmishing begins in Australian stem cell war

Wary of being criticised for over-selling the promise of their research, Australian stem cell scientists have begun a campaign to convince the public that it is about providing “a platform for a new generation of drugs and to watch how disease progresses”. According to a feature in The Age, the scientists are choosing their words carefully. “I’m still old enough to remember the first heart transplant and speculation that if you got someone’s heart, you would get their soul as well,” says Dr Richard Boyd, of Monash University. “You must bring the public with you.”

Public education has become crucial as a December 19deadline for completing a review of human cloning and embryo research in Australia approaches. The public and politicians can “expect a multi-media effort to decode very complex biological pathology into a concise, cogent, easily digestible storyline,’ says The Age. The other two strands of the public relations drive are that enough safeguards exist to control mad or bad scientists and that human embryo research will eventually vanquish the most dreaded diseases.