In an early indication of lay opinions on research with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are stem cells made from skin or other tissues, a new study by bioethicists at Johns Hopkins University indicates that despite some ethical concerns, patients give the research “broad endorsement.”
Researchers conducted focus group discussions, during which patients proved largely in favor of participating in iPSC research even if personal benefit was unlikely, though they raised concerns about consent, privacy and transparency when considering donating tissue for this research. The findings were reported in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
“Bioethicists, as well as stem cell researchers and policy-makers, have discussed the ethical issues of induced pluripotent stem cells at length, but we didn’t have any systematic information about what patients think about these issues, and that is a huge part of the equation if the potential of this research is to be fully realized,” said Jeremy Sugarman, senior author of the report.
Unlike human embryonic stem cells, iPSCs are derived without destroying a human embryo. Research with human iPSCs is valuable for developing new drugs, studying disease, and perhaps developing medical treatments. Sugarman explains that, while far off, scientists are hopeful that iPSCs could someday be used to develop organs for transplantation that the body’s immune system will not attack, because they can be created from the person’s own cells.
Read the full, original article: Study finds patients give ‘broad endorsement’ to stem cell research
- Fewer US citizens see stem cell research and IVF as moral issues, Pew Research
- Whose stem cells are they anyway? New Scientist
- Stem cells: what happened to the radical breakthroughs? Guardian