The brave new world of stem cell research dangles the exciting potential for a host of leading-edge treatments that may one day help cure debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, maladies that today cannot be treated with modern medicine.

However, not much thought has been given to how those products might be regulated and how issues of legal liability may be addressed in a way that encourages scientific innovation but also protects the patients for whom these treatments might provide great relief.

Now, a lawyer from the UCLA School of Law and a member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA has developed a road map that could help guide researchers, stem cell product manufacturers, treating physicians and patients through the complex maze of imagining, creating and developing stem cell products and using them to treat disease.

“Stem cell research and its eventual applications hold enormous promise, but they also carry some significant risks,” said Stephen R. Munzer, a distinguished professor of law and author of the article. “Our understanding of the number and gravity of those risks right now is incomplete and uncertain. Developing a plan now that details how to deal with such issues as stem cell product liability is important, because we need to think carefully and rationally about how to address these issues before the market is flooded with products.”

Munzer’s work appears April 11, 2012 in the Boston University Journal of Science and Technology Law.

In the article, Munzer offers suggestions on how stem cell products might be classified in the future, examines how applying existing product liability rules to stem cell products is inadequate, details the economic considerations for a stem cell liability regime and offers his views of what the law should be on liability for stem cells.

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