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Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Research

Stem cell research offers great promise for understanding basic mechanisms of human development and differentiation, as well as the hope for new treatments for diseases such as diabetes, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, and myocardial infarction. However, human stem cell (hSC) research also raises sharp ethical and political controversies. The derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines from oocytes and embryos is fraught with disputes about the onset of human personhood.

The reprogramming of somatic cells to produce induced pluripotent stem cells avoids the ethical problems specific to embryonic stem cell research. In any hSC research, however, difficult dilemmas arise regarding sensitive downstream research, consent to donate materials for hSC research, early clinical trials of hSC therapies, and oversight of hSC research.

These ethical and policy issues need to be discussed along with scientific challenges to ensure that stem cell research is carried out in an ethically appropriate manner. This article provides a critical analysis of these issues and how they are addressed in current policies.

More information about ethical iPSC stem cells therapy

https://nbscience.com/stem-cells/

STEM CELL RESEARCH offers great promise for understanding basic mechanisms of human development and differentiation, as well as the hope for new treatments for diseases such as diabetes, spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease, and myocardial infarction.

Pluripotent stem cells perpetuate themselves in culture and can differentiate into all types of specialized cells. Scientists plan to differentiate pluripotent cells into specialized cells that could be used for transplantation.

However, human stem cell (hSC) research also raises sharp ethical and political controversies. The derivation of pluripotent stem cell lines from oocytes and embryos is fraught with disputes regarding the onset of human personhood and human reproduction. Several other methods of deriving stem cells raise fewer ethical concerns. The reprogramming of somatic cells to produce induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) avoids the ethical problems specific to embryonic stem cells.

Some people believe that an embryo is a person with the same moral status as an adult or a live-born child. As a matter of religious faith and moral conviction, they believe that “human life begins at conception” and that an embryo is therefore a person. According to this view, an embryo has interests and rights that must be respected. From this perspective, taking a blastocyst and removing the inner cell mass to derive an embryonic stem cell line is tantamount to murder

Many other people have a different view of the moral status of the embryo, for example that the embryo becomes a person in a moral sense at a later stage of development than fertilization.

More information about ethical iPSC stem cells therapy

https://nbscience.com/stem-cells/

Fetal Stem Cells

 

Pluripotent stem cells can be derived from fetal tissue after abortion. However, use of fetal tissue is ethically controversial because it is associated with abortion, which many people object to. Under federal regulations, therapy with fetal tissue is permitted provided that the donation of tissue for research is considered only after the decision to terminate pregnancy has been made. This requirement minimizes the possibility that a woman’s decision to terminate pregnancy might be influenced by the prospect of contributing tissue to research.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS Cells)

 

Somatic cells can be reprogrammed to form pluripotent stem cells , called induced pluripotential stem cells (iPS cells).

These iPS cell lines will have DNA matching that of the somatic cell donors and will be useful as disease models and potentially for allogenic transplantation.

Early iPS cell lines were derived by inserting genes encoding for transcription factors, using retroviral vectors. Researchers have been trying to eliminate safety concerns about inserting oncogenes and insertional mutagenesis. Reprogramming has been successfully accomplished without known oncogenes and using adenovirus vectors rather than retrovirus vectors. A further step was the recent demonstration that human embryonic fibroblasts can be reprogrammed to a pluripotent state using a plasmid with a peptide-linked reprogramming cassette . Not only was reprogramming accomplished without using a virus, but the transgene can be removed after reprogramming is accomplished. The ultimate goal is to induce pluripotentiality without genetic manipulation.

More information about ethical iPSC stem cells therapy

https://nbscience.com/stem-cells/

iPS cells avoid the heated debates over the ethics of embryonic stem cell therapy because embryos or oocytes are not used. Furthermore, because a skin biopsy to obtain somatic cells is relatively noninvasive, there are fewer concerns about risks to donors compared with oocyte donation. The President’s Council on Bioethics called iPS cells “ethically unproblematic and acceptable for use in humans” . Neither the donation of materials to derive iPS cells nor their derivation raises special ethical issues.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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