Biotechnology convention to be held in Vienna in December will provide a forum of discussion on human stem cell research, an important potential source of new cell-based therapies
The economic and societal values of human cell and tissue therapies will be discussed extensively during the Cordia-EuropaBio convention, the European bioindustry's flagship event that takes place in Vienna, 2-4 December.
This comes at a pivotal time as MEPs are due to vote this week on the European Commission's guidelines on embryonic stem cell research.
The guidelines propose that, under strict conditions and with the consent of the donor, human embryos left over from IVF treatment could be used for research purposes under the EU funded research programme, if national laws allow.
"While adult stem cell research is non-controversial, not enough is known at the present time about the potential of all human stem cell types, including embryonic, foetal or adult stem cells.
"Therefore, we welcome the commission's decision to support research involving all types of human stem cells under strictly controlled conditions," says Hugo Schepens, secretary-general of EuropaBio and chairman of Cordia steering committee.
However, the industry believes that given the differing cultural and religious beliefs about research using human embryos in different countries, rather than promoting harmonised rules, member states should be free to decide whether or not to permit embryonic stem cell research independently.
At Cordia, most of the key European countries will be present, and the conference is expected to provide a platform for debating this issue.
Human stem cell research represents an important potential source of new cell-based therapies to address current unmet medical needs and other serious diseases or injuries, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, stroke, heart diseases and genetic disorders.
Some of these issues will be discussed during the conference track 'Biotechnology products and services of tomorrow' at Cordia, chaired by Erik Tambuyzer, chairman of the healthcare board at EuropaBio.