Mesenchymal stem cells in neurodegenerative diseases: Opinion review on ethical dilemmas

World J Stem Cells. 2020 Mar 26;12(3):168-177. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v12.i3.168.


The treatment of neurodegenerative diseases presents a growing need for innovation in relation to recent evidence in the field of reconstructive therapy using stem cells. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders, and the advent of methods able to induce neuronal stem cell differentiation allowed to develop innovative therapeutic approaches offering the prospect of healthy and perfectly functional cell transplants, able to replace the sick ones. Hence the importance of deepening the state of the art regarding the clinical applications of advanced cell therapy products for the regeneration of nerve tissue. Besides representing a promising area of tissue transplant surgery and a great achievement in the field of neurodegenerative disease, stem cell research presents certain critical issues that need to be carefully examined from the ethical perspective. In fact, a subject so complex and not entirely explored requires a detailed scientific and ethical evaluation aimed at avoiding improper and ineffective use, rather than incorrect indications, technical inadequacies, and incongruous expectations. In fact, the clinical usefulness of stem cells will only be certain if able to provide the patient with safe, long-term and substantially more effective strategies than any other treatment available. The present paper provides an ethical assessment of tissue regeneration through mesenchymal stem cells in neurodegenerative diseases with the aim to rule out the fundamental issues related to research and clinical translation.

Keywords: Ethical principles; Mesenchymal stem cells; Neurodegenerative diseases; Patient safety; Stem cell research; Stem cell therapy.

Publication types

  • Review