Great promise for medicine

Stem cell research conference

World experts in the field of stem cell science gathered for a conference yesterday at NUI Galway.

The two-day Galway International Stem Cell conference will focus on the latest developments in stem cell research, including work being done by scientists at the university.

Stem cells are the body’s natural reservoir, replenishing stocks of damaged cells and there is little doubt that human stem cell research is a thriving field of science worldwide. It holds great promise for helping to combat some of the most deadly diseases and for regenerating damaged bodies.

It is also, however, an ethical, legal and political minefield, most notably when it involves the use of human embryonic stem cells. Because it is such an emotive topic, it is important for the public to be aware that most human stem cell research involves adult cells and the work done in Galway reflects this.

The first Irish licence to manufacture stem cells for clinical trials was granted last January to the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland at NUIG. The centre works in tandem with the Regenerative Medicine Institute at the university which is hosting the conference in collaboration with the UK Stem Cell Society. Since 2004, RMI has been working to develop therapies that have so far eluded medical science.

Despite breakthroughs, stem cell therapy is still largely experimental, but the NUI conference will help to illuminate the pathway that leads from research to effective treatments.


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