Stem cell therapies: a tale of caution

Edward Byrne and David W Howells
Med J Aust 2003; 179 (3): 164-166.


  • One of the most exciting possibilities in human therapeutics is that stem cells (embryonic or adult) may compensate for cell loss in disease, with functional recovery.

  • This has received considerable publicity in the lay press.

  • Much work remains to be done to turn stem cell therapy into a practical reality for major degenerative diseases, especially those affecting the nervous system.

  • Medical scientists and journalists should work together in ensuring that the general public has a realistic understanding of the likely time frame in which benefits from stem cell therapies will be realised.

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  • Edward Byrne1
  • David W Howells2

  • 1 Centre for Neuroscience, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Department of Medicine, Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre, Heidelberg, VIC.


Competing interests:

None identified.

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