AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. September 2000, Volume 2, Number 9.

Ethics Poll

Use of Embryonic Stem Cells in Research

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

In 1998, Dolly the lamb made headlines for being the first successful product of reproductive cloning. Human reproductive cloning, however, is almost universally banned. In contrast to reproductive cloning, therapeutic cloning allows scientists to produce embryonic stem cells that can develop into any cell type in the body. Thus, embryonic stem cells could potentially provide a supply of replacement human organs. At this point, only embryonic, and not adult stem cells, have the biological capacity to differentiate into any type of cell. Recently, the Chief Medical Officer of England, Professor Liam Donaldson, recommended that certain kinds of therapeutic cloning be permitted. Moreover, NIH has just issued guidelines that will allow federally funded research on human pluripotent stem cells. Such stem cell research has the potential benefit of treating such diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, among others. However, critics of using embryonic stem cells for research say it could lead to the production and commodification of embryos.

Should embryos be used to perform embryonic stem cell research?
Poll results reflect the opinions of visitors to the site who voluntarily answer the poll questions. Those visitors do not represent a random sample of Virtual Mentor readers. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.