Ethical Challenges of Stem-Cell Transplantation in Parkinson’s Disease: Islamic Viewpoint

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We read with great interest the article entitled “Ethical Criteria for Human Trials of Stem-Cell-Derived Dopaminergic Neurons in Parkinson’s Disease” by Hurst and colleagues (2015). Hurst and colleagues discussed three challenges with relation to such trials: participant selection, informed consent, and sham surgery. Over the past two decades, the clinical application of stem cells has dramatically shifted from the treatment of blood disorders and malignancies to several different areas of medicine, including neurological disease such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) (Barker and de Beaufort 2013). Stem-cell transplantation appears to be a promising choice for the treatment of neurological diseases. However, extra work that improves our understanding of stem cell biology will help us move a step forward and identify the best cell type to use (Batista et al. 2014). Previously, nerve cells from suprarenal medulla were transplanted to treat Parkinson’s disease. The international boxer Mohammed Ali Clay had such an operation and it had no effect on his condition. The question is raised: Should patients with Parkinson’s disease participate in research involving stemcell treatments? And are induced pluripotent stem cells the ethical solution to the moral issues pertaining to embryonic stem cells?

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