Stem Cells - Ethics

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The term "stem cell" is used so freely these days in many different forums that it is difficult sometimes understand without context what scientists, politicians, ethicists and commentators are discussing. Many papers discussing the ethics of stem cell research are published about or linked to the legal and political issues.

A useful guide (online PDF document) to stem cells was produced in a report by the National Institute of Health (NIH, USA, May 2000) and more recently NIH has established a Stem Cell information page.

Stem Cell Links: Introduction | Timeline | Placental Cord Blood | Adult | Induced pluripotent stem cell | Yamanaka Factors | Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer | Ethics | Organoids | Adult Human Cell Types | Category:Stem Cell

Some Recent Findings

  • Where does New Zealand stand on permitting research on human embryos?[1] "However, New Zealand stands apart from many of these other societies by the lack of permission for scientists to conduct research using human embryos. There is no doubt this reflects strongly held viewpoints on the part of some that embryos should be protected and not exploited. Legitimate as this stance is, the resulting situation is problematic when IVF is already designated as an established procedure. This is because the development of IVF involved embryo research, and continuing improvements in procedures depend upon ongoing embryo research. While prohibition of research on human embryos gives the impression of protecting embryos, it fails to do this and also fails to enhance the health and wellbeing of children born using IVF. This situation will not be rectified until research is allowed on human embryos."
  • Sydney Uni bans stem cell research on church land (ABC News story - 6 February , 2007 | Audio Podcast) "A deal between Sydney University and the Catholic Church means that Australia's largest medical research centre, due for completion in 2012, won't be allowed to do any work on embryonic stem cell research."
  • Deciding the fate of supernumerary frozen embryos: a survey of couples' decisions and the factors influencing their choice[2] "Results from a recent Australian survey into couples' views on the use of supernumerary embryos. 40% (123/311) returned completed questionnaires. 42% most common decision was donation to research (altruistic motives and desire not to waste embryos were determinants of embryo donation). Determinants of disposal were not wanting a full sibling to existing children and opposition of embryo research. 45% found deciding distressing. 69% approved of embryo donation to stem-cell research."
  • Stem cell research in a Catholic institution: yes or no?[3] "Catholic teaching has no moral difficulties with research on stem cells derived from adult stem cells or fetal cord blood. The ethical problem comes with embryonic stem cells since their genesis involves the destruction of a human embryo."
More recent papers
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Search term: Stem Cells Ethics

<pubmed limit=5>Stem Cells Ethics</pubmed>



In December 2013, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published two resources on stem cell treatments. (NHMRC - Stem Cell Treatments)

Quick Guide for Medical Practitioners

  1. Stem Cell Treatments – a Quick Guide for Medical Practitioners
  2. Stem Cell Treatments – Frequently Asked Questions

Transcript of discussion on ABC Radio (Dr. J Kahn , Dr. J Wagner) on Genetic Technology And Ethics Legal: RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN EMBRYOS ACT 2002

INFORMATION FOR HUMAN RESEARCH ETHICS COMMITTEES SHEET NUMBER 5 - STEM CELL RESEARCH The Australian Health Ethics Committee has been approached by human research ethics committees (HRECs) seeking advice on how to review research protocols that involve stem cell research.The following guidance is interim. Formal guidelines will be developed by AHEC in the context of its review of the 1996 NHMRC Ethical guidelines on assisted reproductive technology.

August 2002

Stem Cell Debate in Australia continues with new Federal Legislation (August 2002)

  • Parliament of Australia- House of Representatives Bills Digest No. 17 ¬†2002-03 Research Involving Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 "Purpose: To ban human cloning and other 'unacceptable practices' and to regulate the use of excess human embryos created by assisted reproductive technology (ART). The Bill is designed to be part of a national scheme which will include complementary State and Territory laws."
  • ABC Lateline disscussion- Broadcast: 14/8/2002 Stem cells: science and ethics clash "As the Federal Parliament debates a bill that will legalise embryonic stem cell research, the moral debate continues. Many hope embryo stem cells will hold the promise of cures for diseases and even allow paraplegics to walk again, but is it acceptable to use the cells from a potential human being?" Full transcript of this discussion available online.
  • Dr Michael Wooldridge MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, Media Release, 'National Framework Agreed to Prevent the Exploitation of Human Cloning', 31 July 2001 NATIONAL FRAMEWORK AGREED TO PREVENT THE EXPLOITATION OF HUMAN CLONING Australian Health Ministers today agreed to the development of a national framework to prevent the exploitation of human cloning. Meeting in Wellington today, Australian Health Ministers acknowledged that the development of complementary legislation across the states and territories was essential to ensure a consistent national approach to the cloning of humans.
  • Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee activities (inquiries and reports) Human cloning: scientific, ethical and regulatory aspects of human cloning and stem cell research.

March 2002

February 2002

  • Stem Cells and grafting this Nature paper demonstrates the possible therapeutic use of embryonic stem cells in grafting, where host-graft rejection normally requires substantial ongoing immunosuppression. Preimplantation-stage stem cells induce long-term allogeneic graft acceptance without supplementary host conditioning FANDRICH etal. (Link to Nature Journal)

October 2001

  • India to tighten rules on human embryonic stem cells research Ganapati Mudur BMJ 2001; 323: 530a.

August 2001

Legal: Research involving the in vitro embryo, March 2004 == New Zealand == "The regulations on stem cell research are reviewed, showing that four positions have emerged. Position A corresponds to the prohibition of all embryo research, position B confines the use of embryonic stem cells to those currently in existence and therefore extracted prior to some specified date, position C allows for the use and ongoing isolation of embryonic stem cells from surplus in vitro fertilization embryos, and position D approves of the creation of human embryos specifically for research. Position B which has been adopted by the United States, Germany, and Australia (with subtle differences between them) and which is regarded as a compromise position, is critiqued." Towns CR, Jones DG. Stem cells: public policy and ethics. N Z Bioeth J. 2004 Feb;5(1):22-8. == United States == On August 9, 2001, at 9:00 p.m. EDT, the President announced his decision to allow Federal funds to be used for research on existing human embryonic stem cell lines as long as prior to his announcement (1) the derivation process (which commences with the removal of the inner cell mass from the blastocyst) had already been initiated and (2) the embryo from which the stem cell line was derived no longer had the possibility of development as a human being.
In addition, the President established the following criteria that must be met:

    • The stem cells must have been derived from an embryo that was created for reproductive purposes;
    • The embryo was no longer needed for these purposes;
    • Informed consent must have been obtained for the donation of the embryo;
    • No financial inducements were provided for donation of the embryo. In order to facilitate research using human embryonic stem cells, the NIH is creating a Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry that will list the human embryonic stem cell lines -- at varying stages of development -- that meet the eligibility criteria. Listed below are entities that have developed stem cell lines that meet the President's criteria and are therefore eligible for federal funding. Please click on the name of the laboratory or company for contact information.
      Dartmouth ethics professor discusses promise and pitfalls of stem cell research (2005)
      NIH Clinical Trials (May 2004) Launches Study of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation for Severe, Treatment-Resistant Lupus (NIAMS, May 13,2004)
      A clinical therapeutic trial in the USA for hematopoietic stem cells in an autoimmune disease.
      "A five-year study to see whether a therapy using transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells, blood stem cells found in bone marrow, can produce long-term remission for patients with severe, treatment-resistant systemic lupus erythematosus (or lupus), a rheumatic autoimmune disease that can affect the body's major organs. The study will include a basic research component to examine the roles of B and T cells, white blood cells in the immune system, in triggering lupus symptoms."
      Read more of the NIH Press Release
      Note that a May search of NIH Clinical Trials with "stem cell" found 302 study results.
      Repeat search: NIH Clinical Trials with "stem cell"


  1. <pubmed>25145308</pubmed>
  2. <pubmed>16716313</pubmed>
  3. <pubmed>16770888</pubmed>


<pubmed>16403728</pubmed> <pubmed>15254278</pubmed> <pubmed>15250118</pubmed>


<pubmed>16716313</pubmed> <pubmed>16770888</pubmed> <pubmed>15310730</pubmed> <pubmed>15174985</pubmed> <pubmed>11531637</pubmed> <pubmed>12558484</pubmed> <pubmed>11531637</pubmed>

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May 2006 "stem cell ethics" 1,491 reference articles of which 214 were reviews.

Search PubMed Now: stem cell ethics | stem cell use | embryonic stem cell |

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, June 18) Embryology Stem Cells - Ethics. Retrieved from

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