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Ethical reflections on stem cell-derived gametes

Seppe Segers (UGent) , Guido Pennings (UGent) and Heidi Mertes (UGent)
(2017) MEDECINE THERAPEUTIQUE. 19(4). p.298-306
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Abstract
This review explores the relevant ethical questions that are raised by the potential creation and use of stem cell derived sperm and egg cells (SCD-gametes), otherwise known as in vitro gametogenesis (IVG). We focus on the differentiation of embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells into gametes. This possible future technology is believed to serve both basic science and clinical use, especially in the field of assisted reproduction. The creation of SCD-gametes could overcome the short supply of oocytes available for research, and as such promote scientific knowledge about diseases as well as about human reproduction. With respect to therapy, IVG could enable various groups of people who would otherwise be dependent on donor gametes to have genetically related offspring. However, these prospects also raise moral issues related to the instrumentalisation (and destruction) of human embryos, the physical and psychological wellbeing of the future offspring who would be born via this technology, and how far one should go to accommodate the goal of having genetically related offspring. This includes related questions about fairness and access to IVG as well as concerns that this technology might be used for applications beyond clinical infertility. We give an overview of the various moral questions this raises.
Cette revue explore les questions éthiques soulevées par la création et l’utilisation potentielle des gamètes issus de cellules souches, autrement dit la gamétogenèse in vitro (IVG, pour in vitro gametogenesis). Nous nous concentrons sur la différenciation des cellules souches embryonnaires et des cellules souches pluripotentes induites en gamètes. Cette technologie pourrait trouver des applications dans le champ de la science fondamentale mais aussi en pratique clinique, en particulier dans le domaine de la procréation médicalement assistée. L’IVG pourrait en effet pallier le manque d’ovocytes utilisables en recherche, et ainsi favoriser l’acquisition de connaissances nouvelles sur des maladies et sur la reproduction humaine. Sur le plan clinique, l’IVG pourrait suppléer, pour plusieurs catégories de personnes, au recours à des gamètes provenant d’un tiers, et ainsi faciliter l’obtention d’enfants génétiquement apparentés. Cependant, des questions éthiques se posent, liées à l’instrumentalisation – et à la destruction – d’embryons humains, au bien-être (physique et mental) des enfants qui pourraient naître par cette technique, et à ce qui est acceptable pour permettre la naissance d’enfants génétiquement liés à leurs parents. Ces interrogations incluent notamment les difficultés d’un accès équitable à cette technologie, ainsi que des questions sur l’usage de l’IVG à d’autres fins que le traitement de l’infertilité. Nous explorons ces différentes questions morales.
Keywords
stem cell derived gametes, assisted reproductive technologies, in vitro gametogenesis, stem cells, gamètes issus de cellules souches, procréation médicalement assistée, in vitro gamétogenèse, cellules souches

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Segers, Seppe, Guido Pennings, and Heidi Mertes. 2017. “Ethical Reflections on Stem Cell-derived Gametes.” Medecine Therapeutique 19 (4): 298–306.
APA
Segers, Seppe, Pennings, G., & Mertes, H. (2017). Ethical reflections on stem cell-derived gametes. MEDECINE THERAPEUTIQUE, 19(4), 298–306.
Vancouver
1.
Segers S, Pennings G, Mertes H. Ethical reflections on stem cell-derived gametes. MEDECINE THERAPEUTIQUE. 2017;19(4):298–306.
MLA
Segers, Seppe, Guido Pennings, and Heidi Mertes. “Ethical Reflections on Stem Cell-derived Gametes.” MEDECINE THERAPEUTIQUE 19.4 (2017): 298–306. Print.
@article{8545336,
  abstract     = {This review explores the relevant ethical questions that are raised by the potential creation and use of stem cell derived sperm and egg cells (SCD-gametes), otherwise known as in vitro gametogenesis (IVG). We focus on the differentiation of embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells into gametes. This possible future technology is believed to serve both basic science and clinical use, especially in the field of assisted reproduction. The creation of SCD-gametes could overcome the short supply of oocytes available for research, and as such promote scientific knowledge about diseases as well as about human reproduction. With respect to therapy, IVG could enable various groups of people who would otherwise be dependent on donor gametes to have genetically related offspring. However, these prospects also raise moral issues related to the instrumentalisation (and destruction) of human embryos, the physical and psychological wellbeing of the future offspring who would be born via this technology, and how far one should go to accommodate the goal of having genetically related offspring. This includes related questions about fairness and access to IVG as well as concerns that this technology might be used for applications beyond clinical infertility. We give an overview of the various moral questions this raises. },
  author       = {Segers, Seppe and Pennings, Guido and Mertes, Heidi},
  issn         = {1774-640X},
  journal      = {MEDECINE THERAPEUTIQUE},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {298--306},
  title        = {Ethical reflections on stem cell-derived gametes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1684/mte.2017.0671},
  volume       = {19},
  year         = {2017},
}

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