Professor Martin Pera Welcomes Legislation Review Report

07 July 2011

Professor Martin Pera, Program Leader of Australia’s leading stem cell research organisation Stem Cells Australia based at the University of Melbourne, welcomed the independent Review Committee's Report recommending that Australian stem cell scientists can continue to use human embryos for medical research under the current strict regulatory framework.

“Australia has a strong record in stem cell research. Like our colleagues throughout the world, we use many types of stem cells – those from adults, those from embryos, and those made using new laboratory techniques – to study human development and disease and to discover leads to novel treatments and cures.  We believe this research will allow faster and more effective testing of new medicines, and eventually lead to cell therapy for spinal cord injury, and for diseases like cancer, heart disease and cystic fibrosis.”

“There has been remarkable progress in stem cell research over the last decade and many of these advances have come from the discoveries made using stem cells obtained from human embryos.  Embryonic stem cells remain the benchmark for research in this field, and in the next decade, critical advances may depend on our ability to develop new cell lines from embryos.”

Professor Pera noted that Australia still has one of the strictest set of rules for the use of embryos in research.  “Similar to the situation in California, where I have worked for the past five years, the level of ethical and practical scrutiny is very high in Australia.  Every experiment has to be justified to a Research Ethics Committee.  No embryos are used in research unless there is a strong scientific rationale to justify such use.”

Media coverage: 
Anti-cloning review doubly welcomed HERALD SUN 7 July 2011 
Stem cell review recommends no change to current legislation AUSTRALIAN LIFE SCIENTIST 7 July 2011