At the present time, stem cell research is mainly to be classified as basic research. Currently, therapies are only possible with adult stem cells – for instance bone marrow transplantation to treat blood diseases – or they are undergoing testing in clinical trials. In contrast, therapies with embryonic stem cells are not yet possible but the first clinical trials are in the planning stage.
Major findings have been obtained over the last 25 years in the field of cell and developmental biology. The famous cloned sheep „Dolly“ is just one of the many milestones. Given the major potential of stem cell research for future strategies in regenerative medicine, major scientific, financial and organisational efforts are needed. The success of these efforts will very much depend on the socio-political framework conditions and the legal foundations. What's important here is the responsible discussion of basic ethical principles and the expert communication and anchoring of new technologies in society.
The group's objective was and is to use indicators to process the current state of knowledge and technology, to describe individual fields of application such as basic research, applied research and stem cells therapies, and to look at the ethical implications and legal framework conditions of research involving human embryos.