embryo research


Summary: Experimentation on, or using the organs or tissues from, a human or other mammalian conceptus during the prenatal stage of development that is characterized by rapid morphological changes and the differentiation of basic structures. In humans, this includes the period from the time of fertilization to the end of the eighth week after fertilization.

Top Publications

  1. Fischbach G, Fischbach R. Stem cells: science, policy, and ethics. J Clin Invest. 2004;114:1364-70 pubmed
    ..This has led to an intense debate that threatens to limit embryonic stem cell research. The profound ethical issues raised call for informed, dispassionate debate. ..
  2. Giacomini M, Baylis F, Robert J. Banking on it: public policy and the ethics of stem cell research and development. Soc Sci Med. 2007;65:1490-500 pubmed
    ..They are therefore highly worthy of scientific pursuit. This conclusion is provisional and the framework must be reapplied as scientific knowledge, technological capacity and ethical mores evolve. ..
  3. Moller M. Human embryonic stem cell research and the discarded embryo argument. Theor Med Bioeth. 2009;30:131-45 pubmed publisher
    ..It shows that this argument is unsound regardless of how one understands the claim that embryos have moral status. It also discusses the implications of this conclusion for attempts to use this argument as a basis for public policy. ..
  4. Shaw D. Moral qualms, future persons, and embryo research. Bioethics. 2008;22:218-23 pubmed publisher
    Many people have moral qualms about embryo research, feeling that embryos must deserve some kind of protection, if not so much as is afforded to persons...
  5. Fuscaldo G, Russell S, Gillam L. How to facilitate decisions about surplus embryos: patients' views. Hum Reprod. 2007;22:3129-38 pubmed
    ..In addition, the study demonstrated interest in the possibility of directed donation to other couples. ..
  6. Svenaeus F. A Heideggerian defense of therapeutic cloning. Theor Med Bioeth. 2007;28:31-62 pubmed
    ..The threat in question needs to be taken seriously, since it concerns the structure and goal of practices which are central to our very self understanding as human beings. ..
  7. Green R. Political interventions in U.S. human embryo research: an ethical assessment. J Law Med Ethics. 2010;38:220-8 pubmed publisher
    ..For more than 30 years, beginning with the Reagan administration's refusal to support and provide oversight for embryo research, and continuing to the present in congressionally imposed limits on funding for such research, progress in ..
  8. Haimes E, Taylor K. The contributions of empirical evidence to socio-ethical debates on fresh embryo donation for human embryonic stem cell research. Bioethics. 2011;25:334-41 pubmed publisher
    ..Both this article, and that by McLeod and Baylis, emphasize the need to consider the views and experiences of embryo donors when evaluating the ethics of embryo donation for hESC research. ..
  9. Roberts C, Throsby K. Paid to share: IVF patients, eggs and stem cell research. Soc Sci Med. 2008;66:159-69 pubmed
    ..Our analysis highlights the need for innovative social, ethical and political consideration of egg sharing for stem cell research. ..

More Information


  1. Haimes E, Taylor K. Fresh embryo donation for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research: the experiences and values of IVF couples asked to be embryo donors. Hum Reprod. 2009;24:2142-50 pubmed publisher
  2. Lyerly A, Steinhauser K, Voils C, Namey E, Alexander C, Bankowski B, et al. Fertility patients' views about frozen embryo disposition: results of a multi-institutional U.S. survey. Fertil Steril. 2010;93:499-509 pubmed publisher
    ..Restructuring and standardizing the informed consent process and ensuring availability of all disposition options may benefit patients, facilitate disposition decisions, and address problems of long-term storage. ..
  3. Jain T, Missmer S. Support for embryonic stem cell research among infertility patients. Fertil Steril. 2008;90:506-12 pubmed publisher
    ..The majority of infertility patients studied favor use of left-over embryos for stem cell research. Several demographic and socioeconomic factors, however, are significantly associated with patient opinion. ..
  4. McLeod C, Baylis F. Donating fresh versus frozen embryos to stem cell research: in whose interests?. Bioethics. 2007;21:465-77 pubmed
    ..On the basis of our analysis, we conclude that patients should not be asked to donate their fresh embryos to stem cell research. ..
  5. Newton C, Fisher J, Feyles V, Tekpetey F, Hughes L, Isacsson D. Changes in patient preferences in the disposal of cryopreserved embryos. Hum Reprod. 2007;22:3124-8 pubmed
    ..In this Canadian sample, patients' affinity for research declined after treatment. ..
  6. Mitzkat A, Haimes E, Rehmann Sutter C. How reproductive and regenerative medicine meet in a Chinese fertility clinic. Interviews with women about the donation of embryos to stem cell research. J Med Ethics. 2010;36:754-7 pubmed publisher
    ..This reveals that they filled the knowledge gap with an image of research improving fertility treatment. ..
  7. Hug K. Motivation to donate or not donate surplus embryos for stem-cell research: literature review. Fertil Steril. 2008;89:263-77 pubmed publisher
    ..Being at the beginning of treatment, not knowing the aim of medical research, or having good-quality embryos appear to motivate those who answer that they do not want to donate. ..
  8. Nachtigall R, Mac Dougall K, Harrington J, Duff J, Lee M, Becker G. How couples who have undergone in vitro fertilization decide what to do with surplus frozen embryos. Fertil Steril. 2009;92:2094-6 pubmed publisher
  9. Oduncu F. Stem cell research in Germany: ethics of healing vs. human dignity. Med Health Care Philos. 2003;6:5-16 pubmed
  10. Cohen E. The bioethics agenda and the Bush second term. New Atlantis. 2004;7:11-8 pubmed
  11. Little M, Hall W, Orlandi A. Delivering on the promise of human stem-cell research. What are the real barriers?. EMBO Rep. 2006;7:1188-92 pubmed
  12. Lo B, Zettler P, Cedars M, Gates E, Kriegstein A, Oberman M, et al. A new era in the ethics of human embryonic stem cell research. Stem Cells. 2005;23:1454-9 pubmed
    ..Lack of attention to the special ethical concerns raised by clinical trials of hESC transplantation and their implications for the derivation of new hESC lines may undermine or delay progress toward stem cell therapies. ..
  13. Strong C. Those divisive stem cells: dealing with our most contentious issues. Am J Bioeth. 2002;2:39-40 pubmed
  14. Doerflinger R. Human cloning and embryonic stem cell research after Seoul: examining exploitation, fraud and ethical problems in the research. Testimony of Richard M. Doerflinger. Natl Cathol Bioeth Q. 2006;6:339-50 pubmed
  15. Resnik D, Shamoo A, Krimsky S. Fraudulent human embryonic stem cell research in South Korea: lessons learned. Account Res. 2006;13:101-9 pubmed
  16. Greely H. Moving human embryonic stem cells from legislature to lab: remaining legal and ethical questions. PLoS Med. 2006;3:e143 pubmed
  17. Magnus D, Cho M. Ethics. Issues in oocyte donation for stem cell research. Science. 2005;308:1747-8 pubmed
  18. Hoffman D, Zellman G, Fair C, Mayer J, Zeitz J, Gibbons W, et al. Cryopreserved embryos in the United States and their availability for research. Fertil Steril. 2003;79:1063-9 pubmed
    ..Nearly 400,000 embryos are stored in the United States, the majority of which (88.2%) are targeted for patient use. Few are available for research (2.8%), limiting possible conversion into embryonic stem cell lines. ..
  19. Pattinson S. Reproductive cloning: can cloning harm the clone?. Med Law Rev. 2002;10:295-307 pubmed
  20. Karpowicz P, Cohen C, van der Kooy D. Developing human-nonhuman chimeras in human stem cell research: ethical issues and boundaries. Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2005;15:107-34 pubmed
    ..The article provides guidelines that set ethical boundaries for conducting such research that are consonant with the requirements of human dignity. ..
  21. Brownsword R. Bioethics today, bioethics tomorrow: stem cell research and the "dignitarian alliance". Notre Dame J Law Ethics Public Policy. 2003;17:15-51 pubmed
  22. van Leeuwen E. On the origin, use and destination of human embryos. Eur J Endocrinol. 2004;151 Suppl 3:U13-6 pubmed
    ..It is concluded that, on the latter level, the moral problems of the other two are significant, but not conclusive. The decision to allow or to ban research with human embryos is charged with full human responsibility. ..
  23. Childress J. Human cloning and human dignity: the report of the President's Council on Bioethics. Hastings Cent Rep. 2003;33:15-8 pubmed
  24. Lo B, Chou V, Cedars M, Gates E, Taylor R, Wagner R, et al. Medicine. Consent from donors for embryo and stem cell research. Science. 2003;301:921 pubmed
    ..Some gamete donors who are willing to help women and couples bear children may object to the use of their genetic materials for certain types of research. ..
  25. Bjuresten K, Hovatta O. Donation of embryos for stem cell research--how many couples consent?. Hum Reprod. 2003;18:1353-5 pubmed
    ..A high proportion, 92%, of couples who underwent infertility treatment in Sweden preferred donating their supernumerary embryos for stem cell research rather than letting them be discarded. ..
  26. Noaksson K, Zoric N, Zeng X, Rao M, Hyllner J, Semb H, et al. Monitoring differentiation of human embryonic stem cells using real-time PCR. Stem Cells. 2005;23:1460-7 pubmed
    ..The combination of QPCR with hESC-based technologies opens novel avenues for high-throughput analysis of hESCs in, for example, pharmacological and cytotoxicity screening. ..
  27. Patel P. A natural stem cell therapy? How novel findings and biotechnology clarify the ethics of stem cell research. J Med Ethics. 2006;32:235-9 pubmed
    ..Although these technologies are far from therapeutic, concerns over the morality of embryonic stem cell derivation should not hinder their advancement. ..
  28. Faden R, Dawson L, Bateman House A, Agnew D, Bok H, Brock D, et al. Public stem cell banks: considerations of justice in stem cell research and therapy. Hastings Cent Rep. 2003;33:13-27 pubmed
  29. Gómez Lobo A. On potentiality and respect for embryos: a reply to Mary Mahowald. Theor Med Bioeth. 2005;26:105-10; discussion 111-3 pubmed
    ..It follows that they are already persons essentially. ..
  30. Snyder E, Loring J. Beyond fraud--stem-cell research continues. N Engl J Med. 2006;354:321-4 pubmed
  31. Grinnell F. Defining embryo death would permit important research. Chron High Educ. 2003;49:B13 pubmed
  32. Baylis F, Beagan B, Johnston J, Ram N. Cryopreserved human embryos in Canada and their availability for research. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2003;25:1026-31 pubmed
    ..Nonetheless, the data suggest there are very few cryopreserved embryos in Canada available for research and that even fewer of these may be potentially eligible for research due to incomplete or inadequate consent processes. ..
  33. George R. Human cloning and embryo research: the 2003 John J. Conley Lecture on medical ethics. Theor Med Bioeth. 2004;25:3-20 pubmed
    ..He concludes that if the moral status of cloned human embryos is equivalent to that of adults, then public policy should be based upon this assumption. ..
  34. Blackburn E. Bioethics and the political distortion of biomedical science. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:1379-80 pubmed
  35. Reich J. Embryonic stem cells. The debate in Germany. Science. 2002;296:265 pubmed
  36. Landry D, Zucker H. Embryonic death and the creation of human embryonic stem cells. J Clin Invest. 2004;114:1184-6 pubmed
    ..We suggest that a common ground for pursuing research on human embryonic stem cells can be found by reconsidering the death of the human embryo and by applying to this research the ethical norms of essential organ donation. ..
  37. Knowles L. A regulatory patchwork--human ES cell research oversight. Nat Biotechnol. 2004;22:157-63 pubmed
  38. Dravid G, Ye Z, Hammond H, Chen G, Pyle A, Donovan P, et al. Defining the role of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in the survival, proliferation, and self-renewal of human embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells. 2005;23:1489-501 pubmed
    ..Thus, Wnt/beta-catenin activation does not suffice to maintain the undifferentiated and pluripotent state of hESCs. We propose a new model for the role of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in undifferentiated hESCs. ..
  39. Sagoff M. Extracorporeal embryos and three conceptions of the human. Am J Bioeth. 2005;5:52-4; discussion W14-6 pubmed
  40. Steinbrook R. Egg donation and human embryonic stem-cell research. N Engl J Med. 2006;354:324-6 pubmed
  41. Brock D. Is a consensus possible on stem cell research? Moral and political obstacles. J Med Ethics. 2006;32:36-42 pubmed
  42. Nachtigall R, Becker G, Friese C, Butler A, MacDougall K. Parents' conceptualization of their frozen embryos complicates the disposition decision. Fertil Steril. 2005;84:431-4 pubmed
  43. Deckers J. Why current UK legislation on embryo research is immoral. How the argument from lack of qualities and the argument from potentiality have been applied and why they should be rejected. Bioethics. 2005;19:251-71 pubmed
    ..They have more value than the value that should be assigned to non-human beings from the start of fertilisation. Current UK legislation on embryo research is immoral.
  44. Cyranoski D. Chinese scientists to pioneer first human CRISPR trial. Nature. 2016;535:476-7 pubmed publisher
  45. Redondo Hermida A. [Some remarks on the protection of human embryo in the Spanish law]. Cuad Bioet. 2009;20:201-8 pubmed
  46. Mohler Kuo M, Zellweger U, Duran A, Hohl M, Gutzwiller F, Mutsch M. Attitudes of couples towards the destination of surplus embryos: results among couples with cryopreserved embryos in Switzerland. Hum Reprod. 2009;24:1930-8 pubmed publisher
    ..Swiss couples with cryopreserved embryos/zygotes are open to different options related to donating, rather than discarding, surplus embryos. ..
  47. Klostergaard L. Embryonic stem cell research is not dehumanising us. J Med Ethics. 2009;35:774-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Our decisions and activities are expressions of our understanding of ourselves and I would like to argue that when considering the human embryo the real question we should be asking is what kinds of actions are dehumanising us. ..
  48. Beckmann J. [The criteria of high priority, adequacy of research in the animal and adult human models, and the absence of an alternative according to section 5 of the German Stem Cell Act: the ethical perspective]. Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2008;51:954-60 pubmed publisher
    ..This paper seeks to elucidate these three criteria, to analyze their dual function as ethical and as scientific concepts, and to illustrate the ways in which they are being used. ..
  49. Harkness L, Rasmussen I, Erb K, Kassem M. Derivation and characterisation of hESC lines from supernumerary embryos, experience from Odense, Denmark. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 2010;46:259-68 pubmed publisher
    ..Characterisation was carried out using RT-PCR, staining, karyotyping, EB formation and teratoma formation. The KMEB hESC lines will, in the future, be made available through the UK Stem Cell Bank (http://www.ukstemcellbank.org.uk/). ..
  50. St John J, Armstrong L, Minger S, Campbell K. Law should recognize value of interspecies embryos. Nature. 2008;451:627 pubmed publisher
  51. Flaherty J. Human embryonic stem cells leap the barrier. Med J Aust. 2007;187:477-8 pubmed
  52. Ferrer Colomer M, Pastor L. The preembryo's short lifetime. The history of a word. Cuad Bioet. 2012;23:677-94 pubmed
    ..Once this goal had been achieved, the term was gradually abandoned. ..
  53. Mardon H, Grewal S, Mills K. Experimental models for investigating implantation of the human embryo. Semin Reprod Med. 2007;25:410-7 pubmed
    ..We describe the strengths and weakness of the models and some of the advances that have been made by the use of these in vitro models. ..