An ethical analysis of alternative methods to obtain pluripotent stem cells without destroying embryos

Heidi Mertes; Guido Pennings; André Van Steirteghem
November 2006
Human Reproduction;Nov2006, Vol. 21 Issue 11, p2749
Academic Journal
Although few ethical concerns exist regarding the use of adult stem cells, the field of embryonic stem cell research is fraught with moral qualms. Several alternative sources of pluripotent stem cells have recently been presented that try to sidestep the destruction of human embryos. The goal of these new proposals is to avoid embryo destruction, the main objection to embryonic stem cell research and thus introduce a type of stem cell research that would gain widespread approval and support. This article suggests that most embryo-saving alternatives fail to reach this goal given the concessions they require with regard to the speed of progress, technical complexity, safety and security of applications, degree of dependence on limited resources and extent of the field of application. The second part of the article identifies and analyses the two main strategies that alternative sources of pluripotent stem cells are based on and points out their shortcomings.


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