Contemplating stem cells in society
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Stem cell science has been widely touted as a field of revolutionary possibilities ranging from treating currently incurable diseases to restoring function to individuals with disabilities. Although clinically recognised stem cell treatments (SCTs) available in Australia are currently limited to support for patients with haematological malignancies, immune deficiencies and tissue engineered products such as skin and corneal grafts or bone repair, clinics and companies based in Australia and overseas are capitalising on the promise of the field and marketing a range of SCTs direct to consumers with little, if any, medically recognised evidence.
The aim of this project is to understand the socio-cultural dynamics of the unproven stem cell treatment market, particularly the factors shaping Australians’ views, expectations and experiences of unproven stem cell treatments offered within Australia and overseas. Specifically the project aims to:
- collect qualitative evidence of the experiences of people considering and undertaking unproven SCTs within Australia and internationally;
- explore and map the socio-cultural dynamics shaping patient expectations of SCTs and their experiences undertaking them; and,
- generate a new and novel evidence base on the harms and/or benefits of and associated with SCTs and their marketing based on patient experience.
This project extends our previous work undertaken as a part of ARC-funded projects on stem cell tourism funded by the ARC (‘High hopes, high risk?: a sociological study of stem cell tourism’; DP120100921) with Professor Alan Petersen, Jane Brophy (PhD candidate) and Dr Casimir McGregor.
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