April 18, 2024

Can iPS cells be used unethically, too?

What about iPS gametes?
The principal ethical stumbling block in
dealing with human embryonic stem cells is well known: embryo destruction.
Induced pluripotent stem cells avoid this. But an op-ed in Scientific American reveals
that some researchers and bioethicists are concerned about potential unethical
use of iPS cells as well.

Kazuto Kato, a bioethicist at Kyoto
University in Japan, warns that iPS cells could be used to create gametes which
could in turn be used to create embryos. Some research teams are already
working on this project. Dr Kata regards this scenario as “very hypothetical”,
but three teams have already claimed success with producing mouse embryos from
iPS cells.

If it ever became feasible, producing
“designer babies” would be even easier with iPS cells than it is with cloned
embryos. Reproduction would be possible at any age, including before puberty or
after death. There is no regulation of reproduction with iPS cells currently. ~
American, September

Michael Cook
stem cells