Moral Limits of Brain Organoid Research

J Law Med Ethics. 2019 Dec;47(4):760-767. doi: 10.1177/1073110519897789.


Brain organoid research raises ethical challenges not seen in other forms of stem cell research. Given that brain organoids partially recapitulate the development of the human brain, it is plausible that brain organoids could one day attain consciousness and perhaps even higher cognitive abilities. Brain organoid research therefore raises difficult questions about these organoids' moral status - questions that currently fall outside the scope of existing regulations and guidelines. This paper shows how these gaps can be addressed. We outline a moral framework for brain organoid research that can address the relevant ethical concerns without unduly impeding this important area of research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Consciousness / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Moral Status*
  • Organoids / physiology*
  • Stem Cell Research / ethics*