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