Unfortunately, he suggests that many of the things that drove gene therapy to try clinical trials before the biology behind the science was understood are in play for stem cells today: Patient groups suffering from deadly diseases are "clamoring for stem cell—based therapies." Political support from universities has expanded. And "unrealistic expectations have been fueled by relentless media coverage, driven in part by a factor not present in the gene therapy roll-out: a debate over the ethics of research on human embryos and embryo cells."
Last year, the International Society for Stem Cell Research unveiled guidelines for human experiments of stem cell therapies, calling for increased regulation of clinical trials and care for research participants. Wilson suggests these guidelines should be written into law as part of a drive to put the brakes on stem cell clinical trials before history repeats itself, he writes. "It is difficult to avoid getting caught up in the unabashed enthusiasm that attends the emergence of a novel, but untested, therapeutic technology platform for which I can attest."