The stem cell dream, Cambridge

Date of event/activity: 
29 Jan 2008
East of England Stem Cell Network

Issues surrounding stem cell research were the subject of an evening of interactive voting, short films and discussion at the CRUK Cambridge Research Institute, near Addenbrooke's Hospital.

The event addressed such questions as the safety of treatment involving stem cells, what both patients and scientists make of them, and their availability in the UK.

The audience were presented with a fictional application from a biotechnology company to treat sufferers of Parkinson's disease with nerve cells obtained from umbilical cord blood. Participants were then able to vote on whether permission should be granted.

Short films dealing with some of the questions raised were also shown at the event. They explore the different types of stem cells, perspectives on stem cell research from Parkinson's disease and the expected time frame for stem cell therapies.

The evening concluded with a discussion with members of the hosting panel.

The panel included a representative from the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Nigel Atkinson, a senior solicitor, Julian Hitchcock, and MRC professor Austin Smith of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research at Cambridge. The panel was chaired by BBC presenter Quentin Cooper.

At the end of the event, participants were asked to vote once more on the issue.