Cell-based interventions for neurologic conditions: Ethical challenges for early human trials

D. J.H. Mathews, J. Sugarman, H. Bok, D. M. Blass, J. T. Coyle, P. Duggan, J. Finkel, H. T. Greely, A. Hillis, A. Hoke, R. Johnson, M. Johnston, J. Kahn, D. Kerr, J. Kurtzberg, S. M. Liao, J. W. McDonald, G. McKhann, K. B. Nelson, M. RaoA. Regenberg, A. W. Siegel, K. Smith, D. Solter, H. Song, A. Vescovi, W. Young, J. D. Gearhart, R. Faden

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Attempts to translate basic stem cell research into treatments for neurologic diseases and injury are well under way. With a clinical trial for one such treatment approved and in progress in the United States, and additional proposals under review, we must begin to address the ethical issues raised by such early forays into human clinical trials for cell-based interventions for neurologic conditions. Methods: An interdisciplinary working group composed of experts in neuroscience, cell biology, bioethics, law, and transplantation, along with leading disease researchers, was convened twice over 2 years to identify and deliberate on the scientific and ethical issues raised by the transition from preclinical to clinical research of cell-based interventions for neurologic conditions. Results: While the relevant ethical issues are in many respects standard challenges of human subjects research, they are heightened in complexity by the novelty of the science, the focus on the CNS, and the political climate in which the science is proceeding. Conclusions: Distinctive challenges confronting US scientists, administrators, institutional review boards, stem cell research oversight committees, and others who will need to make decisions about work involving stem cells and their derivatives and evaluate the ethics of early human trials include evaluating the risks, safety, and benefits of these trials, determining and evaluating cell line provenance, and determining inclusion criteria, informed consent, and the ethics of conducting early human trials in the public spotlight. Further study and deliberation by stakeholders is required to move toward professional and institutional policies and practices governing this research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-293
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 22 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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