Responsibly accelerating the translation of regenerative medicines

The field of regenerative medicine faces many challenges in translating innovations and discoveries into clinical treatments and technologies. Combining ‘Responsible research and innovations’ and ‘Science and Technology Studies’ principles and approaches can foster better preparation for clinical translation by identifying, discussing and addressing many different issues and concerns with a diversity of stakeholders.

What background and points are discussed?

Many areas of research, funding bodies and governments have adopted principles of RRI into their operations. Professor Webster explains that an RRI approach allows members of science and society (the public, businesses, and others) to examine and discuss the ethical nature, inherent risks and complex implications of scientific research and technologies. If started early, RRI discussions can help anticipate positive and negative implications, unconsidered risks and broader considerations, such as how innovations should be governed. This approach moves science and industry towards slower more considered innovation with greater emphasis on its direction, rather than rapid ‘innovation-at-all-costs’. The theory of RRI is built on four principles: ‘anticipation’, ‘reflexivity’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘responsiveness’. These principles direct individuals to: consider the risks and opportunities of technological advances, openly discuss different groups’ interests and values (e.g. companies, researchers and the public may all hold different views), involve different groups in deciding how new technologies are governed, and build ways to reassess and change policies as situations change. Dr Webster notes that equally important are several principles of STS, which generally recognise that innovations and emerging technologies are a “non-linear, complex and messy process”. STS approaches recognise that new ideas and technologies can result in many different outcomes (some of which may never happen). STS also acknowledges that ‘recursive relations’ occur in markets; this is where makers of products respond to what the market wants, and the market responds to what is being made. STS approaches account for innovations being adopted by consumers in a totally different way than what the innovation was intended for. Considering all of this, Dr Webster states that new technologies and their industries need to be flexible, serve a function, create demand and integrate with the circumstances and infrastructure of the people who will use it.