The future (r)evolution of preimplantation genetic diagnosis/human leukocyte antigen testing: ethical reflections

Stem Cells. 2007 Sep;25(9):2167-72. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.2006-0625. Epub 2007 May 24.


There has been increasing support for combining preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for specific diseases with a test for human leukocyte antigens (HLA) because the generation of HLA-matched umbilical cord blood cells may save the life of a diseased sibling. To date, this procedure has taken place in the context of conceiving another child--PGD/HLA testing type 1. However, it may well become possible to perform PGD/HLA testing outside this context, that is, to select matched embryos from which embryonic stem cells could be derived and used in cell therapy--PGD/HLA testing type 2. A proactive ethical analysis is needed and is presented in this article. Although PGD/HLA testing type 1 can be morally justified, the risks, pitfalls, and practical limitations of this procedure make it necessary to develop alternative strategies. PGD/HLA testing type 2 may provide an alternative strategy. From an ethical point of view, the controversial issue is that this procedure creates embryos purely for instrumental use. However, given the dominant view that the preimplantation embryo has only limited moral value, this alternative may be as morally justified as PGD/HLA testing type 1.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Forecasting
  • HLA Antigens / analysis*
  • HLA Antigens / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Testing / ethics*
  • Histocompatibility Testing / trends*
  • Humans
  • Preimplantation Diagnosis / ethics*
  • Preimplantation Diagnosis / trends*


  • HLA Antigens