Advances in biological sciences and the development of human stem cells are today bringing new hope for the treatment of many diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes, heart diseases and cancer, as well as injuries for which there has previously been no effective treatment. However, this new type of medical treatment also raises a number of complex ethical issues.
A brief background text on stem cells and stem cell research is presented in the form of questions and answers.
Following on from the debate in 2000 on Genetics and Europe's future, the European Commission - assisted by the eminent scientists who make up the Life Sciences High-Level Group, set up by European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin in 2000 - invited a forum of specialists to a conference in Brussels entitled Stem cells: therapies for the future?
The aim was to launch and encourage a pluralistic and informative debate between experts - scientific and otherwise - interested in the feasibility and consequences of stem cell research and a wide range of representatives of society who are concerned by both the potential of such new treatment, as well as the risks. The two-day debate gave all participants (scientists, biotechnicians, experts in ethics, specialists in human sciences, lawyers, patients' associations, interest groups, students and teachers, the medical profession and representatives of the public authorities and civil society) the opportunity to express their opinions and their sentiments.
In addition to the forum discussions, the dialogue was fuelled by the questions or opinions you have already submitted through this site. You can continue to express them under the "dialogue on-line" menu.
The full conference report will be available on this site within the next few weeks. A brochure and educational poster are also being produced as further material for information and debate.