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01 May 2004

The future of human embryonic stem cell research: addressing ethical conflict with responsible scientific research

David M. Gilbert

Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(5): RA99-103 :: ID: 11661

Abstract

Embryonic stem (ES) cells have almost unlimited regenerative capacity and can potentially generate any body tissue. Hence they hold great promise for the cure of degenerative human diseases. But their derivation and the potential for misuse have raised a number of ethical issues. These ethical issues threaten to paralyze pubic funding for ES cell research, leaving experimentation in the hands of the private sector and precluding the public’s ability to monitor practices, research alternatives, and effectively address the very ethical issues that are cause for concern in the first place. With new technology being inevitable, and the potential for abuse high, government must stay involved if the public is to play a role in shaping the direction of research. In this essay, I will define levels of ethical conflict that can be delineated by the anticipated advances in technology. From the urgent need to derive new ES cell lines with existing technology, to the most far-reaching goal of deriving genetically identical tissues from an adult patients cells, technology-specific ethical dilemmas can be defined and addressed. This staged approach provides a solid ethical framework for moving forward with ES cell research. Moreover, by anticipating the moral conflicts to come, one can predict the types of scientific advances that could overcome these conflicts, and appropriately direct federal funding toward these goals to offset potentially less responsible research directives that will inevitably go forward via private or foreign funding.

Keywords: Bioethics, Cloning, Organism, Embryo - cytology, Embryo Research - ethics, Ethics, Forecasting, Research Support, Stem Cell Transplantation - ethnology, Stem Cell Transplantation - trends, Stem Cells - cytology, Bioethics, Cloning, Organism, Embryo Research - ethics, Embryo, Mammalian - cytology, Ethics, Forecasting, Research Support as Topic, Stem Cell Transplantation - trends, Stem Cells - cytology

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Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750