Subproject 2: Ethical Analysis

A Scientific, Ethical and Comparative Legal Analysis of the Clinical Application of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells in Germany and Austria (ClinhiPS) – SP2: Ethical Analysis

Head: Professor Claudia Wiesemann
Staff: Dr Solveig Lena Hansen, MA and Clemens Heyder, MA, M.mel.

University Medical Center Göttingen
Department for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine
Humboldtallee 36
DE-37073 Göttingen

Project number: 01GP1602C
Funds: 192,329.00 EUR
Term: 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2018

» Website of the Department for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine

Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are generated by reprogramming adult somatic cells. hiPSCs in turn are capable of differentiating into diverse somatic cells. In significant contrast to embryonic stem cells (hESCs), hiPSCs seem to be generated in a less morally tainted way and may therefore comprise the potential to escape the ethical dilemma of consumptive embryo research without losing any medical value. Due to fast paced progress in biomedical research, a therapeutic application might be possible in the near future.

The subproject aims at a thorough analysis of the ethical problems associated with the clinical implementation of hiPSC therapies. We will provide an assessment of the relevant ethical aspects of clinical research on and – if feasible –  application of hiPSC therapies by drawing upon the ethical debate in Germany and Austria as compared to the Anglo-Saxon countries. In particular, we will review the relevant philosophical debate on totipotency/potentiality and its impact on the conception of a clinical implementation of hiPSCs. Moreover, we will provide an analysis of relevant stakeholders and ethical tools necessary for regulatory oversight to safeguard patients’ and public interest in medically innovative patient care. Profiting from insight of the other subprojects, subproject 2 will give guidance for an ethically sensitive approach to the clinical implementation of hiPSC therapies. Results will feed into the development of ethical guidelines for research in close cooperation with the other project partners.