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Stem cell-derived gametes, iterated in vitro reproduction, and genetic parenthood
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  1. Thomas Douglas, Associate Editor

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This special issue of the Journal incorporates a series of articles on ethical questions raised by stem cell-derived gametes (SCDGs), understood here as gametes or gamete-like cells created in the laboratory from human pluripotent stem cells. The series includes five original research papers covering a wide range of ethical questions: Robert Sparrow's feature article sets out to stimulate debate on the possible use of SCDG technology to create multiple generations of human embryos in vitro (see page 725, Editor's choice); César Palacios-González, John Harris and Giuseppe Testa develop and deploy an ethical framework for assessing research uses of SCDG technology and appraise a range of fertility treatments that it may enable (see page 752); Heidi Mertes distinguishes a number of accounts of genetic parenthood and explores their implications for possible clinical applications of SCDGs (see page 744); Timothy Murphy discusses the possible use of SCDG technology to enable same-sex couples to have genetically related children and challenges some assumptions that have underpinned ethical discussions of this topic to date (see page 762); and Anna Smajdor and Daniela Cutas explore a number of ethical and legal questions raised by the possible use of SCDGs to create a person's genetic child without her consent (see page 748). This Concise Argument focuses on Sparrow's feature article and accompanying responses.

Robert Sparrow on ‘in vitro eugenics’

In his ‘In vitro eugenics’ Robert Sparrow describes a possible future application of SCDG technology in which multiple generations of human embryos would be created in the laboratory. Egg and sperm cells would first be generated from existing or new human pluripotent stem cell lines. The resulting eggs would be fertilised using the sperm to create zygotes and ultimately embryos. Embryonic stem cells would then be harvested from these embryos and used to create new egg and sperm cells, which would in …

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