A ground-breaking roundtable in Beijing, China put ‘patient needs’ at the centre of the discussion on stem cell therapies as one solution among many.
This is new, as in China most academic events have focused on how to translate stem cell research into clinical applications fast.
The interactive public event was organised by the Centre for Bionetworking (School of Global Studies, and SPRU) and the Xiannongtan Residential Community on 27 March, 2014, in collaboration with the Beijing Institute of Oriental Life Research and Bioon, Bio-Events, China.
This event brought together 60 patients, stem cell researchers, medical professionals and regulators to talk about patient needs, discussing the potential usage of stem cell therapy in the future.
During the interactive discussion, the panel and audience exchanged ideas, evaluated the similarities and the differences of their experiences, and sparked new thoughts on how to better address patient needs in new medical technologies such as stem cell research.
Associate Professor Huang Xiaoru, from the Institute of Policy and Management of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said: “Stem cell therapy involves collaboration among professionals in four fields, namely, state management, healthcare professionals, research and patients. But these four areas are not connected well with each other now.”
Recently, the Chinese government has strengthened the governance of clinical applications of stem cell research. Associated Professor Liu Xingxia, a stem cell scientist from the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS), indicated that there is a long way to go from basic research to clinical therapies.
Dr Zhang Wei, a general practitioner from a local residential hospital, commented that while patients want to access knowledge of new medical technologies, they also hope to access medical care more easily, with lower costs.
A patient representative, Du Huiqun, expressed her hope for new medical technologies, as well as her concerns about associated risks.
Another patient with both diabetes and cardiovascular disease said that she values the promise of stem cells to treat diseases that are currently incurable; meanwhile, she thinks patients need to be better informed about the current state of the art. Traditional Chinese medicine is commonly practised in China.
One patient emphasised that both Chinese medicine and Western medicine are important for patients, but raised the question of how to use them together.
The discussion suggested better understanding of the combination of treatments using stem cell therapy and traditional Chinese medicine.
Participants appreciated this opportunity to communicate about stem cell research and therapy between the experts and residents. “Through this public event, I understand what stem cell is about now,” a participant said.
The feedback forms, showing 90% very high participant appreciation, look forward to more opportunities for dialogue with scientific experts in the future.
This public event was the first of five roundtables that the Centre for Bionetworking is organising in Asia and the UK.
Through these events the Centre for Bionetworking aims to gain a greater understanding of how patient needs vary according to different national contexts in Asia.
The other roundtables on patient needs and stem cell research will be organised in South Korea, India, Japan and London later this year.
The audio can be heard here
and the sand drawing story is a must-see.