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Ethics and Society

Developments in gene and cell therapy often raise thorny ethical questions. While laboratory and clinical research are subject to ethical review, these ethical requirements can vary between regions, and change as new information emerges.

As with many areas of research, there is still a debate in wider society about certain practices in gene and cell therapy. To give just a few examples, some groups argue that embryonic stem cells should not be used in research or clinical treatments, as they have the theoretical capacity to grow into a new individual. Others are concerned that as gene therapy becomes more widespread, it may be used for purposes other than the treatment of life-limiting conditions, and lead to a decline in natural human diversity.

There is no straightforward, unambiguous answer to these questions. Any individual's stance is informed by their personal values and cultural context. It is important to hold open, good-faith discussions about these contentious issues, and to thoroughly examine the ethical implications of new gene and cell technologies as they develop.

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