Human embryonic stem-cell (hESC) research faces opposition from those who object to the destruction of human embryos. Over the past few years, a series of new approaches have been proposed for deriving hESC lines without injuring a living embryo. Each of these presents scientific challenges and raises ethical and political questions. Do any of these methods have the potential to provide a source of hESCs that will be acceptable to those who oppose the current approaches?
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Liao, S. M. Rescuing human embryonic stem cell research: the blastocyst transfer method. Am. J. Bioeth. 5, 8–16, (2005).
Walters, L. Human embryonic stem cell research: an intercultural perspective. Kennedy Inst. Ethics J. 14, 3–38 (2004).
European Parliament. €54 billion boost for EU scientific research 2007–2013 [online], (2006).
Kaljuvee, A. Blind faith vs. science. Ego (9 August 2006) [online], (2006).
OECD Health Division. Expenditure on health-related functions: Public expenditure on health R&D, 10 October 2006. [online], (2006).
Green, R. M. Benefiting from 'evil': an incipient moral problem in human stem cell research. Bioethics 16, 544–556 (2002).
Williams, C. The Campaign For Ethical Vaccines: Alternatives to vaccines made from aborted babies [online], (2002).
Sgreccia, E. Moral reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human fetuses. Pontificia Academia Pro Vita (Pontifical Academy for Life), Vatican City (9 June 2005) [online], (2005).
Wagers, A. & Weissman, I. L. Plasticity of adult stem cells. Cell 116, 639–648 (2004).
Schwartz, R. S. The politics and promise of stem-cell research. N. Eng. J. Med. 355, 1189–1191 (2006).
De Coppi, P. et al. Isolation of amniotic stem cell lines with potential for therapy. Nature Biotechnol. 25, 100–106 (2007).
Hurlbut, W. B. Altered nuclear transfer as a morally acceptable means for the procurement of human embryonic stem cells. Commissioned working paper for the President's Council on Bioethics December 2004 meeting [online], (2004).
Hurlbut, W. B. Statement of Dr. Hurlbut in President's Council on Bioethics, Human Cloning and Human Dignity 267–276 [online], (2002).
Meissner, A. & Jaenisch, R. Generation of pluripotent NT-ES cells from cloned Cdx2 deficient blastocysts. Nature 439, 212–215 (2006).
Kiessling, A. A. In the stem-cell debate, new concepts need new words. Nature 413, 453 (2001).
Melton, D. A., Daley, G. Q. & Jennings, C. G. Altered nuclear transfer in stem-cell research — a flawed proposal. N. Eng. J Med. 351, 2791–2792 (2004).
Kass, L. The wisdom of repugnance: why we should ban the cloning of humans New Repub. 216, 17–26 (1997).
United Nations. Declaration on Human Cloning. August 3, 2005. [online], (2005).
Crockin, S. Challenges of stem-cell research. Boston Globe (12 December 2006).
Kim, K. et al. Histocompatible embryonic stem cells by parthenogenesis. Science 315, 482–486 (2007).
Vrana, K. E. et al. Nonhuman primate parthenogenetic stem cells. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 11911–11916 (2003).
Landry, D. W. & Zucker, H. A. Embryonic death and the creation of human embryonic stem cells. J. Clin. Invest. 114, 1184–1186 (2004).
Munné, S. et al. Self-correction of chromosomally abnormal embryos in culture and implications for stem cell production. Fert. Steril. 84, 1328–1334 (2005).
Verlinsky, Y. et al. Over a decade of experience with preimplantation genetic diagnosis: a multicenter report. Fertil. Steril. 82, 292–294, (2004).
Chung, Y. et al. Embryonic and extraembryonic stem cell lines derived from single mouse blastomeres. Nature 439, 216–219 (2006).
Klimanskaya, I., Chung, Y., Becker, S., Lu, S. & Lanza, R. Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres. Nature 444, 481–485 (2006).
Simpson, J. L. Blastomeres and stem cells. Nature 444, 433–435 (2006).
Code of Federal Regulations §46. 203 (b). [online], (2005).
Code of Federal Regulations §46. 406.[online], (2005)
Deb, K., Sivaguru, M., Yong, H. Y. & Roberts, R. M. Cdx2 gene expression and trophectoderm lineage specification in mouse embryos. Science 311, 992–996 (2006).
Piotrowska-Nitsche, K., Perea-Gomez, A., Haraguchi, S. & Zernicka-Goetz, Z. Four-cell stage mouse blastomeres have different developmental properties. Development 132, 479–490 (2005).
Balanced Budget Downpayment Act I of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104–99, §128, 110 Stat. 26, 34. [online], (1996).
Hudson, K. L. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis: public policy and public attitudes. Fertil. Steril. 85, 1638–1645 (2006).
Davis, D. S. The puzzle of IVF. Houst. J. Health Law Policy 6, 275–296 (2006).
Alberio, R., Campbell, K. H. & Johnson, A. D. Focus on stem cells: Reprogramming somatic cells into stem cells. Reproduction 132, 709–720 (2006).
Takahashi, K. & Yamanaka, S. Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors. Cell 126, 663–676 (2006).
Chief Medical Officer's Expert Group (UK). Stem Cell Research: Medical Progress with Responsibility, Department of Health, June 2000. [online], (2007).
I dedicate this to the memory of J. Cohen. His commitment to ethics at Dartmouth College made possible the research that underlies this discussion.
The author declares no competing financial interests.
- Adult stem cell
An undifferentiated cell that exists among differentiated cells in a tissue or organ, and that can renew itself and differentiate to yield the main specialized cell types of that tissue or organ.
The presence of extra copies, or fewer copies, of some chromosomes.
A preimplantation embryo that contains a fluid-filled cavity called a blastocoel.
A cell that results from embryonic cleavage.
- Inner cell mass
A small group of undifferentiated cells that are present in the blastocyst.
- Major histocompatibility complex
A group of genes in mammals that help determine the histocompatibility antigens that are found on cell surfaces and that modulate immune responses.
- Paternal imprinting
The selective switching on or off of genes caused by factors that are inherited from the paternal chromosomes.
Able to give rise to a range of, but not all, cell lineages (usually all fetal lineages and a subset of extraembryonic lineages).
- Somatic-cell nuclear transfer
The process by which the nucleus from an adult cell is transferred into a previously enucleated egg cell; the reconstructed oocyte is then activated, which initiates subsequent development.
The capacity of an undifferentiated cell to develop into any type of cell.
An extraembryonic lineage that is derived from the trophectoderm of the blastocyst, which gives rise to the fetal portion of the placenta.
About this article
Cite this article
Green, R. Can we develop ethically universal embryonic stem-cell lines?. Nat Rev Genet 8, 480–485 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrg2066
Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2017)
Asian Bioethics Review (2017)
The Impact of Commercialisation on Public Perceptions of Stem Cell Research: Exploring Differences Across the Use of Induced Pluripotent Cells, Human and Animal Embryos
Stem Cell Reviews and Reports (2013)
Expression of stemness markers in mouse parthenogenetic-diploid blastocysts is influenced by slight variation of activation protocol adopted
In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Animal (2010)
Bundesgesundheitsblatt - Gesundheitsforschung - Gesundheitsschutz (2008)