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Genomics Forum · News

Forum’s Writer in Residence scripts graphic story about stem cells



Ken MacLeod collaborates in inventive approach to telling the story of stem cell research


Genomics Forum Writer-in-Residence, , has produced the script for an innovative graphic novel which tells the story of how stem cells have come to be used to treat a range of the medical conditions, and explores the ethical issues surrounding this.

Hope Beyond Hype has been developed by OptiStem, a large European consortium of stem cell researchers, to go beyond just explaining the science of stem cells, by depicting the process researchers undertake as they try to move stem cell research on towards clinical trials and therapies. The consortium approached acclaimed science fiction author – and Forum – Ken MacLeod to develop the story for the graphic novel, which was then illustrated by leading comic book artist, Edward Ross.

Hope Beyond Hype starts with the true life story of two badly burned boys being treated with stem cell generated skin grafts in 1983. It then follows the successes and setbacks of a group of researchers working together to use stem cells to cure blindness, whilst being introduced to knotty issues that are part of the process, including stem cell regulation and the controversial ethical issues surrounding the subject.

Speaking at the launch of Hope Beyond Hype, Ken MacLeod said:

“As a science fiction writer I'm naturally interested in science, and I see engaging with real science as important to science fiction. I'm proud to have been able to contribute to this graphic story, which explains a vital new field of medicine and introduces complex issues of science policy in a clear, straightforward, and entertaining way.”

Further information on Hope Beyond Hype, and a downloadable electronic copy of the story, can be found at the EuroStemCell website.

Ken McLeod has also blogged about his involvement in the project, on the Forum’s blog, Genotype.


Graphic taken from Hope Beyond Hype story.