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The deadly business of an unregulated global stem cell industry
  1. Tamra Lysaght1,
  2. Wendy Lipworth2,
  3. Tereza Hendl2,
  4. Ian Kerridge2,3,
  5. Tsung-Ling Lee1,
  6. Megan Munsie4,
  7. Catherine Waldby5,
  8. Cameron Stewart6
  1. 1Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Clinical Research Centre, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  2. 2Centre for Values Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  3. 3Haematology Department, Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia
  4. 4Stem Cells Australia, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  5. 5College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  6. 6Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tamra Lysaght, Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Level 2 Block MD11, Clinical Research Centre, 10 Medical Drive, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117576, Singapore; tlysaght{at}


In 2016, the Office of the State Coroner of New South Wales released its report into the death of an Australian woman, Sheila Drysdale, who had died from complications of an autologous stem cell procedure at a Sydney clinic. In this report, we argue that Mrs Drysdale's death was avoidable, and it was the result of a pernicious global problem of an industry exploiting regulatory systems to sell unproven and unjustified interventions with stem cells.

  • Ethics
  • Stem Cell Research
  • Regulation

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  • Contributors The authors are formal collaborators on research projects examining the ethics and regulation of autologous stem cell therapies in Australasia and Asia. TL led the drafting of the manuscript with equal conceptual and writing contribution from all other authors. CS is the guarantor for the article.

  • Funding Research for this paper was supported with the funding from an Australian Research Council Linkage Project Grant (LP150100739) and the National University of Singapore, Office of the Deputy President (Research and Technology)—Humanities and Social Sciences Research Fund (WBS: R-171-000-055-646).

  • Competing interests IK is a bone marrow transplant physician, chair of New South Wales Bone Marrow Transplant Network Long Term Follow-Up Working Group, board member of New South Wales Stem Cell Network and member of the National Health and Medical Research Council's Xenotransplantation Committee. No further competing interests to declare.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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