Ethical legal and social issues in stem cell research and therapy - 2nd edition

Outlining the ethical and regulatory issues around stem cell research and therapy, and summarising the current UK policy position


Stem cell research is an important new domain of biomedical research that has the potential to offer viable therapeutic options for debilitating disease and injury. However, stem cell research has proved something of a political, ethical, social and legal minefield, creating challenges for regulatory bodies, policy makers and scientists as they traverse their way through a tangled web of regulations and moral proselytising. 

This second edition briefing paper updates the material presented in the first edition. As before this paper has two main aims: 

  • To present a critical summary of the major debates and policy responses relating to ES cell research, drawing attention to some of the challenges posed by conflicting moral values in an era of global scientific endeavour 
  • To provide an analysis of the key ethical and regulatory implications for stem cell therapy 

Our discussion focuses primarily on the current position in the United Kingdom, and on the issues arising from research on ES cells and their potential medical applications. Selected references are cited as examples of where further information and discussion may be found, but we have not attempted to compile a comprehensive bibliography. We do not discuss in this paper the issues raised by the use of fetal or cord blood cells. A detailed discussion of cord blood banking in both the public and private sectors has been published.

By Oonagh Corrigan, Kathleen Liddell, John McMillan, Alison Stewart, Susan Wallace

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