Ethical Issues in Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Possible Solutions using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: Ethical Comparison of Embryonic Stem (ES) Cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells

By Miyako Takagi.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Human ES cells that can develop into many different cell types of the body are isolated from few-days-old human embryos. Some researchers believe that the destruction of an embryo is equivalent to destroying a human life. They object to the destruction of human embryos for identifying medical cures for intractable diseases. iPS cells, first generated by Prof. Yamanaka at Kyoto University, Japan, in 2006, are artificially derived from adult somatic cells by inducing forced expression of certain genes. iPS cells differentiate into fully differentiated tissues in a manner similar to ES cells. iPS cells do not involve use or destruction of human embryos. Therefore, researchers believe that iPS cell research would lead to new regenerative medicine without controversial use of embryos. However, are there any ethical issues with regard to iPS cells? Yes, such issues do exist. Pluripotent stem cells (ES and iPS cells) can originate from natural and artificial sources, and represent germline and somatic cell lines. That is, the boundaries between germline and somatic cell lines as well as between differentiation and pluripotency are no longer distinct. This phenomenon is going to completely change natural science and its bioethics.

Keywords: ES (Embryonic Stem) Cell, iPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem) Cell, Ethical Issues

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp.65-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 595.983KB).

Dr. Miyako Takagi

Professor, University Research Center, Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan

My work started as a scientist in the field of biochemistry and genetics. Studied chemistry at Aoyama Gakuin University (B.S) in Tokyo, and Graduate studies in biochemistry at Paris 7 University (Docteur es Science). French Fellowship in Institute Jacques Monod, Centre National Recherhe Scientifique (1988); Australian Fellowship in Centre for human Bioethics, Monash University (1992). Now I am interested in all issues on bioethics. The followings are the titles of recent papers. [Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Its Ethical Issues], [Is the use of so called “restored kidneys” for transplantation ethically unjustified?,], [Safety and Neuroethical Consideration of Deep Brain Stimulation as a Psychiatric Treatment].


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