Great expectations?

As we look to the future and succumb to the great expectation that stem cell treatments will provide the new wonder cure for hitherto incurable diseases, we are vulnerable. We are vulnerable to the wily charms of the medicine man offering us a cure-all. 

Before we get carried away we need to step back and look at the situation objectively. In this issue we do just that. 

With the hope and promise that umbilical cord blood stem cells offer, umbilical cord blood banks are being established across Europe and the United States ... and most recently in the Middle East, as government and private cord blood banks open their doors in Dubai. 

The question is, are commercial umbilical cord blood banks exploiting the emotional vulnerabilities of parents for financial gain, when the chances of these harvested stem cells being required for treatment are slim in many cases? 

To confront this issue we publish an important debate by distinguished experts (See page 32).

The World Health Assembly opened on 22 May with the sad news of the death of its director-general Dr Lee Jong-wook. His loss is sorely missed by all those who campaigned for the improvement of public healthcare everywhere. We bring you full coverage of this important five-day event (See page 22). 

Other points of interest in this issue include a breakthrough development in endoscopic robotics, the latest innovations in imaging and a review of a new book about home telehealth.

Brian Wilkie

(Jul-Aug 2006)



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