The Science and Ethics of Induced Pluripotency: What Will Become of Embryonic Stem Cells?

Zacharias, David G.; Nelson, Timothy J.; Mueller, Paul S.; Hook, C. Christopher
July 2011
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Jul2011, Vol. 86 Issue 7, p634
Academic Journal
For over a decade, the field of stem cell research has advanced tremendously and gained new attention in light of novel insights and emerging developments for regenerative medicine. Invariably, multiple considerations come into play, and clinicians and researchers must weigh the benefits of certain stem cell platforms against the costs they incur. Notably, human embryonic stem (hES) cell research has been a source of continued debate, leading to differing policies and regulations worldwide. This article briefly reviews current stem cell platforms, looking specifically at the two existing pluripotent lines available for potential therapeutic applications: hES cells and induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells. We submit IPS technology as a viable and possibly superior alternative for future medical and research endeavors as it obviates many ethical and resource-related concerns posed by hES cells while prospectively matching their potential for scientific use. However, while the clinical realities of iPS cells appear promising, we must recognize the current limitations of this technology, avoid hype, and articulate ethically acceptable medical and scientific goals.


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