World news – Regenerative medicine: embryos in the skin opinion


Sunday vision

Sunday vision

Scientists have succeeded in creating something like a one-week human fetus from simple donor skin cells. A good example of the things that have gone out of the spotlight because of the pandemic. Progress is incomplete, as the authors admit – embryos are definitely incapable of bearing children. We’re not talking about a baby, but building the perfect human fetus is just a matter of technology. Bioethics must be up to the task.

Lawyers and legislators here and more generally in regenerative medicine as a whole are facing a speed test in which the pace of scientific progress has so far dominated. Regulations are not only late in reacting to discoveries, but also poorly, as their stingy and foolproof use creates stringent standards and myopia that quickly become unnecessary or even a hindrance. This is exactly what is happening now with a sacred boundary that prevents half the world from examining embryos older than 14 days. It is like admitting that an embryo larger than this has the status and protection of the individual who receives no experimental support. Sector researchers and some lawyers argue that this arbitrary limit should be removed as it hinders the advancement of knowledge in exchange for nothing. The community needs to be part of the debate.

The short term goal of these investigations is to reach the unknown that still consists of the formation of the human fetus, the causes of infertility and the mechanisms of congenital diseases. No one intends to clone Fu-Manch or to prove the non-existence of God – two projects that have not been heavily funded – but rather to improve medicine and alleviate human suffering. Legislation should respond with speed, waistline, and standards adaptable enough to last for several years.


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