Stem cell hype: Media portrayal of therapy translation

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Science Translational Medicine  11 Mar 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 278, pp. 278ps4
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3010496


In this Perspective, we examine the portrayal of translational stem cell research in major daily newspapers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom between 2010 and 2013, focusing on how timelines for stem cell therapies were represented before and after Geron terminated its pioneering stem cell program. Our content analysis reveals that press coverage has shifted from ethical, legal, and social issues to clinical translation issues, and highly optimistic timelines were provided with no substantial change in representation over time. Scientists were the dominant voice with respect to translation timelines. The findings raise questions about the degree to which the media’s overly optimistic slant fosters unrealistic expectations regarding the speed of clinical translation and highlight the ethical responsibility of stem cell researchers as public communicators.

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