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Tempering hope with realism: induced pluripotent stem cells in regenerative medicine

Ronald K F Fung, Ian H Kerridge, Loane L C Skene and Megan J Munsie
Med J Aust 2012; 196 (10): 622-625. || doi: 10.5694/mja11.11039
Published online: 4 June 2012

The moral panic surrounding human embryo research has fuelled unrealistic public expectations for the imminent success of induced pluripotent stem cell therapy

Traditionally, treatment for chronic degenerative conditions revolved around reducing symptoms and improving physiological functioning in the hope of gaining some (often limited) increase in life expectancy. However, in the past decade, the advent of “regenerative medicine” has raised hope that normal structure and function may be restored in these intractable conditions, by harnessing pluripotent stem cells (cells that can be converted into all cell types of the human body) to produce specialised cells and replace diseased cells in vivo.

  • Ronald K F Fung1
  • Ian H Kerridge1,2
  • Loane L C Skene3
  • Megan J Munsie4

  • 1 Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Haematology Department, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 Education, Ethics, Law and Community Awareness Unit, Stem Cells Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

Ian Kerridge is a board member of the New South Wales Stem Cell Network and was a member of the 2006 Lockhart Committee, which reviewed the federal legislation on embryo research and human cloning. Loane Skene was Deputy Chair of the Lockhart Committee and a member of the Heerey Committee, which reviewed the same legislation in 2011. Megan Munsie was formerly Senior Manager (Research and Government) at the Australian Stem Cell Centre and is currently Director of the Education, Ethics, Law and Community Awareness Unit at Stem Cells Australia.

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