Stemming the hype

11 August 2008

Professor Andrew Webster
Professor Andrew Webster

The most common use of stem cells in the near future will be in trials testing drugs for toxicity, rather than in revolutionary medical breakthroughs, a world expert in the social effects of stem cell research says.

"I think there's a lot of hype around the area," Professor Andrew Webster, a visiting professor at theUniversity of Sydney told The World Today yesterday.

"I think we have to be very careful about saying there's a whole new, revolutionary period ahead with stem cells, embryonic stem cells," said Professor Webster, who heads up the UK's Social Science Stem Cell Initiative, an independent research body which investigates the social implications of this new technology.

"I think in many ways what's going to happen is going to be much more modest, so that stem cells will be used for trialling or testing out toxicity of drugs, for example," Professor Webster said ahead of a public lecture at the University of Sydney last night.

Professor Webster is here as a guest of Associate Professor Catherine Waldby, a University of Sydney sociologist and biomedicine expert.

Listen to the podcast of his lecture at the University on 7 August 2008.

Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 02 9351 2261 or 0434 606 100