BIOETHICS: by News WeeklyNews Weekly
American stem cell expert to visit
, August 10, 2002
Dr David Prentice, a leading American expert on stem cell science, will visit Australia this month at the invitation of Do No Harm, a coalition of Australians who support ethical medical research.
Dr Prentice is Professor of Life Sciences at Indiana State University, and Adjunct Professor of Medical and Molecular Genetics for Indiana University School of Medicine.
His research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, investigates cell growth control; one current focus of his laboratory is adult stem cells and their transformation into other tissue types.
He is a Founding Member of Do No Harm: The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics. He has provided scientific advice for US Senator Sam Brownback one of the co-sponsors of the bill to prohibit cloning.
Dr Prentice has testified several times before the US Congress as well as several state legislatures, and has spoken before the National Academy of Sciences, the British Parliament, the European Parliament, and the Canadian Parliament on stem cell research, cloning, and bioethics.
While in Australia, Dr Prentice will be speaking at public meetings in Sydney (North Sydney Anzac Memorial Club, Wednesday, August 14, 7.30 pm, Tel 02 9267 6159); Brisbane (Parliament House, Brisbane, 1 pm, Thursday, August 15, Tel 07 3252 8255) and Melbourne (Thomas More Centre, North Melbourne, Friday, August 16, 7.45 pm).
He will also be debating Professor Alan Trounson, leading Australian advocate of embryonic stem cell research on the ABC's Lateline
program on Wednesday, August 14.
Dr Prentice testified to a Congressional hearing on Embryonic Cell Research that research using stem cells not derived from human embryos has confirmed that these adult and post-natal stem cells have
"vast biomedical potential to cure diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. The biomedical potential is as great as or greater than the potential offered by human embryonic stem cell research. Adult stem cell research is a preferable alternative for progress in regenerative medicine and cell-based therapies for disease because it does not pose the medical and ethical problems associated with destructive embryonic stem cell research."
He pointed to the tendency of embryonic stem cells to form tumours, their instability in gene expression and the problem of immune rejection as key obstacles that have so far prevented even a single successful treatment using embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells do not have these problems and have already been used in a range of successful therapies.
Dr Prentice will address MHRs and Senators on this issue at a breakfast meeting in Parliament House, Canberra on August 20.
Do No Harm is confident that Dr Prentice's visit will help to make the public, the media and Federal MPs better informed on the science of stem cell research, leading up to the debate on the Research Involving Human Embryos and Prohibition of Cloning Bill 2002 in the forthcoming session of Federal Parliament.