Regulating Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Ethically in the Bio-Economy: A Preliminary Enquiry
Human induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) are an exciting development, and conspicuously avoid some of the pitfalls of embryonic stem cell research - principally there is no need to destroy nascent human life to obtain them because they are reprogrammed from somatic cells. This has led some to proclaim that IPSCs are ‘ethically clean’. In this paper, I counter this claim by describing some of the issues that do pertain to IPSCs; while they do not have the same ethical baggage as their embryonic counterparts, they do challenge existing legislative regimes and create regulatory puzzles, and, depending on how we choose to approach them, intriguing opportunities and challenges to socio-legal convention. This enquiry begins by considering the context in which these challenges arise - what some have called the ‘BioEconomy’, before evaluating an ELSI approach to ethics and law, and finally analysing some distinct regulatory issues that IPSCs raise.