Ethical aspects of the use of stem cell derived gametes for reproduction

Health Care Anal. 2010 Sep;18(3):267-78. doi: 10.1007/s10728-009-0136-x. Epub 2009 Oct 7.


A lot of interest has been generated by the possibility of deriving gametes from embryonic stem cells and bone marrow stem cells. These stem cell derived gametes may become useful for research and for the treatment of infertility. In this article we consider prospectively the ethical issues that will arise if stem cell derived gametes are used in the clinic, making a distinction between concerns that only apply to embryonic stem cell derived gametes and concerns that are also relevant for gametes derived from adult stem cells. At present, it appears preferable to use non-embryonic stem cells for the derivation of gametes. Adult stem cell derived gametes do not present any problems with regard to the moral status of the human embryo, bypass the safety risks linked to SCNT and do not present any ambiguity or novel problems with regard to informed consent, psychological consequences for the child or genetic parenthood. A remaining ethical concern, however, regards the safety of the procedure in terms of the welfare of the resulting children. This should spark a thorough reflection on how far one must go to accommodate a person's wish to have a genetically related child.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Stem Cells*
  • Bioethical Issues
  • Child
  • Embryonic Stem Cells*
  • Germ Cells*
  • Humans
  • Parents / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / ethics*
  • Stem Cell Research / ethics*