The Ethics and Policies Governing Stem Cell Research
Stem Cell

The Ethics and Policies Governing Stem Cell Research

We know that stem cells actually have miraculous effects. In fact, it has been used in treating people who suffer from some medical conditions.

However, there is one particular type of stem cell that is still mired in controversy, and that is the human embryonic stem cells.

These cells are derived from 3-5 days’ old embryos known as Blastocysts. These are very young embryos that have been cultivated in “In Vitro Fertilization” clinics and because it is the primary source of this type of stem cell, various social groups are frowning upon its use for research.

This is where a regulatory board is tasked to oversee the use of embryonic stem cells- whether it is for research or treatment purposes.

The Guidelines

The Ethics and Policies Governing Stem Cell Research
Back in 2007, the board of the International Society for Stem Cell Research released a set of guidelines that researchers must always follow.

It basically states how researchers would use the stem cells for research purposes.

The principles that are outlined are as follows:

  1. No scientist must gather embryonic stem cells without the explicit informed consent of the donors. It has to be stated in the consent that their egg and sperm cells will be used in the creation of the said embryos for extracting embryonic stem cells for research purposes only.
  2. No researcher must coerce or force any individual to donate their own egg or sperm cells to create in vitro fertilized embryos.
  3. The people who are involved in this should not be paid. However, the women who are going to donate their egg cells might be compensated.
  4. The informed consent must outline that the reason they’re doing this is strictly for research purposes only. They have to provide the scientific rationale behind the study.
  5. The embryos that were cultivated in vitro should not be kept beyond the blastocyst stage.
  6. Researchers must remain transparent both to the donors and to the public about the study they’re going to conduct using the embryonic stem cells.

The Review Procedures

The Ethics and Policies Governing Stem Cell ResearchBefore the researchers are given a go signal to collect egg and sperm cell samples from willing donors, they would have to pass through a review board that will look at their rationale and their study itself.

The researchers would have to go through a series of panels for their studies to be approved.

The process is as follows:

  1. Their study will have to pass through the Institutional Review Board which is concerned about the protection of human rights.
  2. An oversight committee, composed of scientists that are focused in the field of biology, will be tasked to oversee the entire study from its beginning to its eventual end.
  3. Since it is unethical to use human subjects right off the bat, their study would require the use of animals for testing and research purposes. Therefore, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee will be tasked to oversee the operations, especially pertaining to the use of animals for research and testing.