Hot Topics: Stem Cells

Blog Posts (32)

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 »
August 5, 2016

The surprisingly small benefit of some very (expensive) Big Ideas

Last week, JAMA published online a Viewpoint provocatively titled, “What Happens When Underperforming Big Ideas in Research Become Entrenched?” The overarching Big Idea to which the article refers is the “narrative positing that a combination of ever-deeper knowledge of subcellular biology, especially genetics, coupled with information technology will lead to transformative improvements in health care and human health.” The article highlights three technologies that are... // Read More »
August 4, 2016

Toward human-animal hybrids

To be published tomorrow in the Federal Register, the massive, Byzantine thousands-upon-thousands of pages repository for all of the rules and regulations that constitute so much of de facto law in the contemporary United States: a Request for Public Comment on the Proposed Changes to the NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research and the Proposed Scope of an NIH Steering Committee’s Consideration of Certain... // Read More »
July 14, 2016

Two more biomedical editorials about the cutting edge

1)      The new issue of Nature Biotechnology carries an erratic editorial complaining that “alarmist” responses to the recent announcement that a project to synthesize an entire human genome may be launched “missed the point.”  The editors say that worries about “synthetic life and secret meetings” missed the point.  The lesser goals of the project—more “nearfetched,” if you will—call for synthesizing long, sub-genomic stretches of DNA... // Read More »
July 8, 2016

Seeking the proper balance of regulation of cellular therapies

The journal Nature is editorializing against something called the REGROW Act, proposed by Senator Mark Kirk as S. 2689.  Looks like it has been referred to Senate committee and is early in the process. A quick read of the bill is that it would direct the HHS Secretary to establish (through the FDA) a process for conditional approval of certain cellular therapies—which would include certain... // Read More »
June 2, 2016

Upcoming Update on Human Gene Editing

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) will hold a workshop on gene editing July 14-15, 2016 in Washington, D.C.   I regret I will not be able to attend, but interested parties may at least glean some information about the scope of the meeting by following the link to review the program. The information there is necessarily limited, but it looks like most of the presentations... // Read More »
May 6, 2016

A Step Toward Ex Vivo Gestation?

The biggest news of the week has nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election.  The bigger scoop is that scientists have grown human embryos in the lab for 13 days after fertilization.  The previous record was 9 days.  The work was stopped after 13 days’ maturation because many societies ban research on human embryos that are more than 14 days old, the latest point... // Read More »
December 11, 2015

Ethical Human Gene Editing for Sickle Cell Anemia

The biggest ethical worry about human gene editing is that it will be used to make long-lasting, heritable changes at the embryo stage or on germ (sperm or egg) cells.  Posts earlier this year have asked whether we should envision a scenario in which human germline gene editing is accepted in a limited number of cases, with the treatment of sickle cell anemia being proposed... // Read More »
November 5, 2015

So are “reprogrammed” stem cells “just as good” as those from embryos?

There is considerable enthusiasm for the use of “reprogrammed” pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, for use in the laboratory and as possible cellular treatment for people with certain injuries or diseases.  This enthusiasm is warranted; human iPSCs (hiPSCs) are readily obtained, and without the destruction of a human embryo as is needed to obtain a “natural” human embryonic stem cell (hESC).  Therefore, iPSCs are often... // Read More »
May 8, 2015

Gene Editing—Trying to Get Specific

In a comment last week, Mark McQuain pointed out the article “Engineering the Perfect Baby” in the MIT Technology Review.  Freely accessible online, it describes, in non-technical terms, several of the routes that genetic editing may follow.  Perhaps the most explosive:  adult skin cell transformed into an induced pleuripotent stem cell that then is used to give rise to germ cells that are then genetically... // 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 (577)

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.

November 7, 2015 6:41 pm

Researchers urge lifting of NIH funding restrictions on chimeric research

In September, the National Institutes of Health halted research funding for chimeric human/nonhuman embryos until new funding guidelines are established. Stanford researchers describe the detrimental impact of a ban.

May 19, 2015 3:09 pm

Fetal stem cells and the sports heroes they revitalized

Their recoveries sparked a debate: The families say the stem cell treatments had a major impact, while skeptics say the therapies are unproven and that Brodie and Howe could have improved through natural healing, as stroke patients often do.

April 17, 2015 2:04 pm

ReNeuron stem cell therapy shows long-term promise for stroke

A pioneering stem cell treatment for patients disabled by stroke has continued to show long-term promise in a clinical trial, the British biotech company behind the project said on Friday.

October 9, 2014 1:31 pm

For diabetes, stem cell recipe offers new hope

Douglas Melton is as impatient as anyone for a cure for diabetes. His son developed the disease as an infant, and his daughter was diagnosed at age 14. For most of the past 2 decades, the developmental biologist at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute has focused his research on finding a cure.

September 11, 2014 1:35 pm

Scientists 'reset' stem cells to study start of human development

British and Japanese scientists have managed to “reset” human stem cells to their earliest state, opening up a new realm of research into the start of human development and potentially life-saving regenerative medicines.

July 3, 2014 1:46 pm

'Breakthrough' stem cell study retracted

It was hailed as a fast, easy, inexpensive and uncontroversial way to produce stem cells.

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