Hot Topics: Stem Cells

Blog Posts (41)

April 21, 2017

Do Extended Pluripotent Stem Cells Raise Ethical Issues?

On April 6, the journal Cell published work (subscription or online article purchase required) from the Salk Institute in San Diego, in which scientists have created a new “reprogrammed” stem cell. These cells are called “extended pluripotent stem cells” or “EPS” cells.  They are different from embryonic stem (ES) cells, which are removed from intact embryos that arise from fertilization—typically requiring specific creation and destruction... // Read More »
April 13, 2017

Reining in the SHEEFs

Consider the human embryo… Ordinarily, it arises from the union of a sperm and egg to form a zygote, which is totipotent, that is, able to develop into a full individual.  In our time, fertilization can happen artificially, as with artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, or naturally through the process that is accessible even to educated fleas.  But the zygote develops into a multicellular... // Read More »
March 17, 2017

Equipoise and Caution Regarding “Ethical” Stem-Cell Therapy

You may have seen one of the many news reports this week about an “adult” stem cell treatment gone bad.  In it, doctors, not working in regulated industry or in the bounds of a clinical trial, injected stem cells derived from a person’s fatty tissue into the eyeballs of three people in an attempt to treat a vision-destroying condition called macular degeneration—and all three lost... // Read More »
March 3, 2017

Heritable human gene editing and the public

The recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine includes a chapter dedicated to public engagement.  Scientists leading gene editing efforts have actively sought broader public engagement, and point out that they desire this input, including from people who disagree with them about it.  They may push to win any arguments, but for the most part they don’t seem to be hiding.... // Read More »
February 23, 2017

Still further on heritable human gene editing

I want to spend a little time—several consecutive posts—on the subject of heritable gene editing in humans, and on the recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on it.  The topic bears more attention than a single blog post, written in a bit of a rush, based on only the initial release of the report, pending a deeper dive.  That is... // Read More »
February 3, 2017

Can We Be Okay With Chimeras?

In a post yesterday, Jon Holmlund, in typically erudite fashion, addressed the ethical issues that arise from the findings of a published study which looked at the potential use of genome technologies to (someday) produce human organs in animals. I will begin by saying that I have no particular disagreement with Jon’s assessment. There is a lot that is troubling in this research, as much good... // Read More »
February 2, 2017

Last week’s “Loser of the Week”: the Human Race

Every Friday, on the Fox News “Special Report,” anchor Bret Baier asks his panelists to choose a winner and loser for the week.  Last week, Charles Krauthammer’s “loser” choice was “the human race.”  Why?  Because of the first peer-reviewed publication (in the journal Cell, freely available online via the link) of work to produce pig-human hybrid embryos—pig embryos with human stem cells implanted, making a... // Read More »
January 12, 2017

Fetal tissue research furor continues

At the end of 2016, the Select Investigative Panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee published its report—all 485 pages—of its investigation into procurement of tissue from aborted fetuses for research.  The investigation had been prompted by the 2015 undercover videos from David Daleiden and his “Center for Medical Progress,” which was adduced to support charges that Planned Parenthood clinics, in particular, had violated... // Read More »
December 11, 2016

The 14-day rule: Time to double down?

The “world’s leading scientists” gathered at University College London on 7 December 2016 to explore extending the 14-day limit on embryo experimentation from 14 days to 28 days. Presently the consensus of that meeting is not known. The Guardian has published a nice summary of the background and future implications of the issue (link HERE). Jon Holmlund offered his comments in this blog back in... // Read More »
August 18, 2016

How can we make the “brave new world” a campaign issue?

Wesley Smith, who, based on his writing, I consider a kindred soul in bioethics, has published an essay in First Things dated August 5, 2016, and entitled, “Brave New World Should be an Election Issue.”  In it, he quickly runs down the revolutionary changes in the very nature of humanity that appear in the offing based on biotechnological developments since the publication of Aldous Huxley’s... // Read More »

View More Blog Entries

Published Articles (7)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 14 Issue 2 - Feb 2014

Transferring Morality to Human–Nonhuman Chimeras Monika Piotrowska

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 1 - Jan 2013

The Argument from Potentiality in the Embryo Protection Debate: Finally “Depotentialized”? Marco Stier & Bettina Schoene-Seifert

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 13 Issue 1 - Jan 2013

Two Watershed Stem Cell Experiments: A Look Back Christopher Scott

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 8 Issue 12 - Dec 2008

Response to Open Peer Commentaries on ?Visual Bioethics?

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 7 Issue 10 - Oct 2007

"Show Me" Bioethics and Politics

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 6 Issue 5 - Sep 2006

Taking Stem Cells Seriously

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 5 Issue 6 - Nov 2005

Rescuing Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: The Blastocyst Transfer Method

News (583)

April 24, 2017 9:00 am

CRISPR studies muddy results of older gene research (Nature)

Scientists face tough decisions when the latest gene-editing findings don’t match up with the results of other techniques.

April 14, 2017 9:00 am

Japanese man is first to receive 'reprogrammed' stem cells from another person (Nature)

On 28 March, a Japanese man in his 60s became the first person to receive cells derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells donated by another person. The surgery is expected to set the path for more applications of iPS-cell technology, which offers the versatility of embryonic stem cells without their ethical taint. Banks of iPS cells from diverse donors could make stem-cell transplants more convenient to perform, while slashing costs.

February 23, 2017 9:00 am

How Silicon Valley Is Trying to Hack Its Way Into a Longer Life (Time)

Rather than wait years for treatments to be approved by federal officials, many of them are testing ways to modify human biology that fall somewhere on the spectrum between science and entrepreneurialism. It’s called biohacking, and it’s one of the biggest things happening in the Bay Area.

January 26, 2017 9:00 am

Human tissues in a dish: The research and ethical implications of organoid technology (Science)

Growing functional human tissues and organs would provide much needed material for regeneration and repair. New technologies are taking us in that direction. In addition to their use in regenerative medicine, stem cells that grow and morph into organ-like structures known as organoids can be used in drug development and toxicology testing. The potential developments and possibilities are numerous and affect not only biomedicine but also areas of ongoing ethical debate.

January 19, 2017 9:00 am

Pharmacological rescue of diabetic skeletal stem cell niches (Science)

Stem cells: The key to boosting bone healing in diabetes

January 16, 2017 9:00 am

How Gene Editing Could Ruin Human Evolution (Time)

CRISPR may be used to repair a gene that has a deficient product, such as an enzyme or receptor, or alter code that merely suggests of risk. Ideas on how to use it change hourly. The method is here to last. The ethics will only get more fraught.

October 25, 2016 8:00 am

What Stem Cell Researchers Talk About When They Talk About Ethics (NPR)

Prior to the development of iPSCs, stem cells were derived primarily from eggs fertilized in clinics in vitro that were donated for research purposes. To some, such as President George W. Bush, this was tantamount to abortion. In 2001 he banned federal funding for research on newly created human embryonic stem cell lines. (President Barack Obama lifted that ban in 2009.)

October 7, 2016 8:00 am

This 8-year-old is free of cancer — for now — after a ‘breakthrough’ treatment (Washington Post)

By the time 8-year-old Ava Christianson got to the National Institutes of Health this summer, she had lost several grueling rounds to leukemia and was bracing for the next one.

May 9, 2016 8:54 am

Why this lab-grown human embryo has reignited an old ethical debate (Science)

It’s easy to obey a rule when you don’t have the means to break it. For decades, many countries have permitted human embryos to be studied in the laboratory only up to 14 days after their creation by in vitro fertilization. But—as far as anyone knows—no researcher has ever come close to the limit. The point of implantation, when the embryo attaches to the uterus about 7 days after fertilization, has been an almost insurmountable barrier for researchers culturing human embryos.

November 7, 2015 6:42 pm

Human-animal chimeras: Stanford scientists condemn funding ban

The Obama administration has quietly clamped a moratorium on a new type of stem-cell research, triggering a letter from a group of Stanford scientists condemning the move and saying that it could delay discoveries in a promising field of medicine.

View More News Items