Could you regrow an arm or a leg? Salamanders can.

International Society for Stem Cell Research 2018 Annual Meeting, Media releases
  • Could you regrow an arm or a leg? Salamanders can.
  • Should you be allowed to try unapproved treatments without the FDA tick when you’re terminally ill? President Trump says yes.

20-23 June 2018 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

International Society for Stem Cell Research 2018 Annual Meeting: more than 2,500 stem cell scientists from 50 countries will hear from 150+ speakers, including:

Taking stem cell science from the lab to the clinic, and what’s wrong with the US ‘right to try’ legislation—Roger Barker, UK

ISSCR is concerned about ‘right to try’ legislation just signed into law in the U.S., which allows terminally ill patients to try risky, unproven treatments without regulation or oversight. Doctors and scientists are alarmed. They say current compassionate use provisions allow access.

While the number of clinical trials using stem cell-derived approaches is increasing, doctors, health authorities and ethics committees have little independent guidance on how to evaluate and assess them.

Roger Barker is a neurologist and neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, currently researching cellular therapies for Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. He is Chair of the ISSCR’s Clinical Translation Committee and led the development of Stem Cell-Based Clinical Trials: Practical Advice for Physicians and Ethics / Institutional Review Committees which tackles this issue.

Roger will present what researchers and physicians need to know about safer paths from bench to bedside.

What humans can learn from axolotl and salamander limb, eye and spinal cord regeneration
—Elly Tanaka, Austria

Some salamanders and axolotls are able to regrow eyes, lost limbs and even severed spinal cords. Elly Tanaka is exploring how the remaining portion of an axolotl’s lost limb is able to activate stem cells to build a replacement.

She has identified the signals from wounds that initiate regeneration, and found that cells ‘remember’ what was lost so that the correct parts of the limb are produced. She is studying these animals to see if they can provide clues for human regenerative medicine. She will share her findings.

Tracing blood back to its beginnings to tackle leukaemia—Andrew Elefanty, Australia

Right now, the stem cells in your bone marrow are making one billion new red blood cells per minute. Andrew Elefanty is studying both embryonic stem cells and more specialised blood-forming stem cells to reveal how our body makes blood and what leads to leukaemia and other blood diseases.

Andrew will share what his research reveals about how blood stem cells go rogue.


  • How new skin from genetically modified stem cells saved a refugee boy’s life—Michele De Luca, Italy
  • Developing a stem cell product to cure blindness from burning—Graziella Pellegrini, Italy
  • How a single stem cell multiplies and organises into a complete healthy body—Patrick Tam, Australia.

For more information, visit or Follow @ISSCR or #ISSCR2018.