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Stem Cell DialoguesA Philosophical and Scientific Inquiry Into Medical Frontiers$
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Sheldon Krimsky

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231167482

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231167482.001.0001

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Embryos without Ovaries

Embryos without Ovaries

(p.165) Dialogue 23 Embryos without Ovaries
Stem Cell Dialogues

Sheldon Krimsky

Columbia University Press

This dialogue provides a fictional account of a lecture series featuring Francis Davenport, a stem cell scientist, and Laura Murphy, a Catholic-educated Ph.D. bioethicist who specializes in reproductive ethics. Moderated by Dr. Rebecca Franklin, the lecture series tackles the promise offered by artificial oocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from adult tissues as well as the daunting opportunities for abuse of “unnatural” sperm and eggs. Donaldson reprogrammed a mouse skin cell into an embryonic-like stem cell and from it made fully functioning sperm and egg cells. His goal is to use the same technique for producing human gametes from adult cells. Murphy recently published a book titled Embryonic Tyranny: How Science Ignores the Sanctity of Life. Here Davenport and Murphy discuss the scientific and medical reasons to create gametes from adult cells; differences between natural primordial germ cells and oocytes and those reprogrammed from skin cells; whether the approach can be used to treat infertility and its ethical implications for human reproduction; and how viable sperm and eggs can be obtained from an adult skin cell.

Keywords:   reproductive ethics, artificial oocytes, induced pluripotent stem cells, sperm, egg cells, human gametes, adult cells, skin cells, infertility, human reproduction

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