Hot Topics: Stem Cells

Blog Posts (49)

October 6, 2017

Human gene editing marches on

Nature has recently carried two new reports of human gene editing.  In one, embryos donated from an IVF clinic had a gene critical to very early development altered, to study what happens when you do that, and try to understand early human development more than we now do.  In the other, scientists studied editing of an abnormal recessive gene, specifically the one causing a type... // Read More »
October 3, 2017

Is Obfuscation Ever Helpful in Science or Ethics?

Obfuscation and science would seem to be polar opposites. The scientific method hinges upon correctly identifying what one starts with, making a single known alteration in that starting point, and then accurately determining what one ends up with. Scientific knowledge results from this process. Accidental obfuscation in that three-step process necessarily limits the knowledge that could potentially be gleaned from the method. Peer review normally... // Read More »
June 6, 2017

Bioethical Jets and Sharks

Recently, Professor Craig Klugman called on the President to set up his Presidential Bioethics Commission. He provides a nice history of Presidential Bioethics Commissions dating back to President Ford. The link to that article is HERE. Other than the usual implication that the President may not be intellectually up to the challenge, I agree with Professor Klugman that there are many pressing bioethical issues that... // Read More »
May 23, 2017

Dear Mr. President: It’s Time for Your Bioethics Commission

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Last week, seven Democratic members of the U.S. House Representatives sent a letter to the White House asking President Trump to appoint a director to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), position that normally serves as the presidential science advisor.…

May 5, 2017

All we like SHEEFs (?)

So, how should we address the moral status of synthetic human entities with embryo-like features (“SHEEFs”)? First, we should consider that these are human, as opposed to non-human, if they arise entirely from cells of human origin.  Human/non-human hybrid creatures are just that, and partially human, biologically.  But are any of these human beings, as in, in California the crime of murder is described as... // Read More »
May 5, 2017

All we like SHEEFs (?)

So, how should we address the moral status of synthetic human entities with embryo-like features (“SHEEFs”)? First, we should consider that these are human, as opposed to non-human, if they arise entirely from cells of human origin.  Human/non-human hybrid creatures are just that, and partially human, biologically.  But are any of these human beings, as in, in California the crime of murder is described as... // Read More »
May 3, 2017

The moral problem of manufacturing children

Mark McQuain’s post yesterday about the moral concerns raised by some of the new things such as in vitro gametogenesis in conjunction with human induced pluripotent stem cells being developed in the field of artificial reproductive technology made me think of something that Leon Kass had written in the early days of in vitro fertilization. In the early years when in vitro fertilization was being... // Read More »
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 »

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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 (589)

September 13, 2017 9:00 am

South Korean researchers lobby government to lift human-embryo restrictions (Nature)

More than a decade after a fraud scandal in stem-cell science rocked South Korea, scientists in the field are ramping up pressure on the government to relax the country’s strict regulations on human-embryo research — which many researchers label a ban.

July 28, 2017 9:00 am

First U.S. team to gene-edit human embryos revealed (Science)

Since Chinese researchers announced the first gene editing of a human embryo 2 years ago, many expected that similar work in the United States was inevitable. Last night, the MIT Technology Review broke the news that such experiments have happened. The research, led by embryologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, also reportedly sidestepped problems of incomplete and off-target editing that plagued previous attempts, though details could not be confirmed since the work is not yet published and Mitalipov has so far declined to comment.

June 30, 2017 9:00 am

Stem cell approach for cataracts challenged (Science)

A team of ophthalmologists and stem cell scientists is advancing a controversial new approach to treating cataracts, the clumping of lens proteins that blurs the vision of about one in six Americans over age 40, plus thousands of infants born every year. Instead of replacing the cloudy lens with a plastic replacement, this technique relies on the capsule’s resident stem cell to regrow an entire new lens.

June 26, 2017 9:00 am

Texas signals support for unproven stem cell therapies (Science)

Texas last week signaled its defiance of the federal government over unproven stem cell therapies, which are widely offered in the state for conditions including joint damage, diabetes, and neurodegenerative illnesses. A bill signed by Governor Greg Abbott allows clinics and companies in the state to offer the experimental treatments without the testing and approval required under federal law, provided they are recommended and delivered by a physician, and performed at a hospital or medical center with oversight from an institutional review board. Now, bioethicists and patient advocates wonder whether the state’s official blessing will simply maintain the status quo, embolden clinics already profiting from potentially risky therapies, or—perhaps—tighten certain protections for patients.

May 25, 2017 9:00 am

Fixing the tomato: CRISPR edits correct plant-breeding snafu (Nature)

From their giant fruits to compact plant size, today’s tomatoes have been sculpted by thousands of years of breeding. But mutations linked to prized traits — including one that made them easier to harvest — yield an undesirable plant when combined, geneticists have foundIt is a rare example of a gene harnessed during domestication that later hampered crop improvement efforts, says geneticist Zachary Lippman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. After identifying the mutations, he and his colleagues used CRISPR gene editing to engineer more productive plants — a strategy that plant breeders are eager to adopt.

April 27, 2017 9:00 am

California’s $3-billion bet on stem cells faces final test (Nature)

When California voters approved US$3 billion in funding for stem-cell research in 2004, biologists flocked to the state, and citizens dreamed of cures for Parkinson’s disease and spinal-cord injuries. Now, the pot of money — one of the biggest state investments in science — is running dry before treatments have emerged, raising questions about whether Californians will pour billions more into stem-cell research.

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.

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