Stem cell-based innovation is one pathway to clinical translation that stands in contrast to clinical research and medical treatment. After reviewing recently issued guidelines for responsible innovation, this article examines the potential benefits and harms of using this pathway as well as practical barriers and conceptual concerns regarding it.
Governance models for the oversight of human embryonic stem cell research have been proposed which mirror in large part familiar oversight mechanisms for research with human subjects and non-human animals. While such models are in principle readily endorsable, there are a set of concerns related to their implementation — such as ensuring that an elaborated informed consent process and conducting long-term monitoring of research subjects are tenable — which suggest areas where gathering data may facilitate more appropriate oversight. In addition, (...) it is unclear whether a new governance model based at individual institutions are sufficient to address the ethical issues inherent to this research. Regardless, some of the concerns that have arisen in considering the appropriate governance of stem cell research, particularly the important translational pathway of innovation in contrast to staged research, transparency and publication, and social justice, may be useful in science and translational research more broadly. (shrink)
Television medical dramas frequently depict the practice of medicine and bioethical issues in a strikingly realistic but sometimes inaccurate fashion. Because these shows depict medicine so vividly and are so relevant to the career interests of medical and nursing students, they may affect these students' beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions regarding the practice of medicine and bioethical issues. We conducted a web-based survey of medical and nursing students to determine the medical drama viewing habits and impressions of bioethical issues depicted in (...) them. More than 80% of medical and nursing students watch television medical dramas. Students with more clinical experience tended to have impressions that were more negative than those of students without clinical experience. Furthermore, viewing of television medical dramas is a social event and many students discuss the bioethical issues they observe with friends and family. Television medical dramas may stimulate students to think about and discuss bioethical issues. (shrink)
: Research in emergency settings (RES) has become a major public issue with urgent policy implications. Significant attention has focused recently on RES in response to the trial of PolyHeme, a synthetic blood substitute, in trauma victims in hemorrhagic shock. Unfortunately, the discussion of the PolyHeme trial in the popular and scholarly press leaves important questions unanswered. This paper articulates three important lessons from the PolyHeme trial that have significant policy implications. First, the RES regulations should be re-visited, particularly the (...) requirement that existing treatments be unproven or unsatisfactory in order for research to be acceptable without consent. Second, further conceptual and empirical scholarship is needed to accomplish the goal of effectively involving communities. Third, a more subtle analysis is needed regarding how to balance the needs of maintaining public trust and protecting confidential trade information in the context of RES. (shrink)
Experiments have suggested that umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used to prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis. This paper discusses ethical issues surrounding such usage such as the uncertainty that individuals at risk of a disease will actually get the disease; issues related to research with children; safety issues; from where these stem cells would be obtained; and whether these usages should be considered as therapies or as physical enhancements.
There is considerable confusion regarding the ethical appropriateness of using incentives in research with human subjects. Previous work on determining whether incentives are unethical considers them as a form of undue influence or coercive offer. We understand the ethical issue of undue influence as an issue, not of coercion, but of corruption of judgment. By doing so we find that, for the most part, the use of incentives to recruit and retain research subjects is innocuous. But there are some instances (...) where it is not. Specifically, incentives become problematic when conjoined with the following factors, singly or in combination with one another: where the subject is in a dependency relationship with the researcher, where the risks are particularly high, where the research is degrading, where the participant will only consent if the incentive is relatively large because the participant's aversion to the study is strong, and where the aversion is a principled one. The factors we have identified and the kinds of judgments they require differ substantially from those considered crucial in most previous discussions of the ethics of employing incentives in research with human subjects. (shrink)
Vulnerability is one of the least examined concepts in research ethics. Vulnerability was linked in the Belmont Report to questions of justice in the selection of subjects. Regulations and policy documents regarding the ethical conduct of research have focused on vulnerability in terms of limitations of the capacity to provide informed consent. Other interpretations of vulnerability have emphasized unequal power relationships between politically and economically disadvantaged groups and investigators or sponsors. So many groups are now considered to be vulnerable in (...) the context of research, particularly international research, that the concept has lost force. In addition, classifying groups as vulnerable not only stereotypes them, but also may not reliably protect many individuals from harm. Certain individuals require ongoing protections of the kind already established in law and regulation, but attention must also be focused on characteristics of the research protocol and environment that present ethical challenges. (shrink)
There has been considerable debate about the ethical acceptability of using placebo-controls in clinical research. Although this debate has been rich in rhetoric, considering that much of this research is predicated upon the assumption that data from this research is vital to clinical decision-making, it is ironic that researchers have introduced little data into these discussions. Using some published research concerning the use of placebo-controls in clinical research in hypertension and psychiatric drug trials, I suggest some ways that such data (...) might be incorporated into the ethical analysis concerning placebo use in clinical trials. This approach promises to be important for enhancing conceptual and scientific understanding as well as public policy decision-making. (shrink)
: In light of information uncovered about human radiation experiments conducted during the Cold War, an important charge for the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments was to assess the current state of protections for human research subjects. This assessment was designed to enhance the Committee's ability to make informed recommendations for the improvement of future policies and practices for the protection of research subjects. The Committee's examination of current protections revealed great improvement over those from the past, yet some (...) problems remain. Although the data collected by the Committee highlight specific areas in need of attention, the Committee's work should be viewed in part as the beginning of a series of ongoing assessments of the adequacy and effectiveness of the protections afforded to human subjects. (shrink)