Stem cell research is something which is given a high priority by the Australian government, as it prides itself on providing responsible research with appropriate guidelines, which is ultimately beneficial to human life. There have been many significant advances made using stem cell research, as it allows scientists to better understand how the body is able to repair itself which could lead to cures for illness and disease.
There are various groups and organizations which monitor and review legislation regarding stem cell research. The last review was in 2005 and since then some remarkable discoveries have been made in this field; the first clinical trial for research into acute spinal cord injury was approved in the United States and two more trials looking into blindness are also expected, all using stem cell research. The most recent review will be due shortly, with an independent committee which was named on 22nd December 2010 currently evaluating the legislation.
The Australian Stem Cell Committee (ASCC) has submitted a number of recommendations to the independent committee for its review. These largely centre on showing the ASCC’s continuing support for the current regulations and also express the need for Australian scientists to have the option of applying for a licence to use human embryonic stem cells in their research; something which they are able to do under the current legislation.
The Senior Manager of Research and Government at the ASCC believes that the current framework ''strikes the right balance between protecting the rights and interests of the donors of the human embryos and providing Australian researchers with access to these valuable cells.''
When the independent committee release their review of the Australian legislation surrounding stem cell research, many people hope that the changes, if any are made, will be minimal. The ASCC in particular are optimistic that the committee and government will recognise the extreme importance of the research being carried out and will allow it to continue without obstruction.