Stem cell scientists and ethicists have focused intently on questions relevant to the developmental stage and developmental capacities of stem cells. Comparably less attention has been paid to an equally important set of questions about the nature of stem cells, their common characteristics, their non-negligible differences and their possible developmental species specificity. Answers to these questions are essential to the project of justly inferring anything about human stem cell biology from studies in non-human model systems-and so to the possibility of eventually developing human therapies based on stem cell biology. After introducing and discussing these questions, I conclude with a brief discussion of the creation of novel model systems in stem cell biology: human-to-animal embryonic chimeras. Such novel model systems may help to overcome obstacles to extrapolation, but they are also scientifically and ethically contentious.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)