The Bioethics of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells: Will Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells End the Debate?

Julia C.Watt1, Nao R.Kobayashi*, 2
O'Brien Institute, 42 Fitzroy Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3065 Australia.

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© R.Kobayashi et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the O'Brien Institute, 42 Fitzroy Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3065 Australia.


The ethical debate surrounding human pluripotent stem (PS) cell research is mainly due to use of human embryonic stem (ES) cells. It has been suggested by many that human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells would end the debate due to their non-embryonic origin. This review examines the ethical issues surrounding the use of iPS cells and their ES cell counterparts, and argues that while iPS cells are in many ways ethically less contentious, they will certainly not end the debate.

Keywords: Embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, somatic cell nuclear transfer, germ line, ethics, moral status, beneficence.