PDF-DownloadThe field of action of regenerative medicine (RM) is growing daily. Indeed, we only have to look at the economic figures that it moves, with an estimated market value for 2020 of 61,000 million Euros.

However, RM also has important ethical components, not only related with the use of embryonic stem cells — cells which, as we know, require the destruction of human embryos to obtain them — but also because these practices in many cases entail ethical aspects that must be carefully evaluated.

Regenerative medicine today

Given the ethical aspect of the use of RM (regenerative medicine ethics), we believe it interesting to review its present clinical use, since both facets of these treatments go hand in hand.

In relation to the medical aspect of RM, Spanish medical website Diario Médico (see HERE) published a fascinating article, from which we have extracted some paragraphs.

The most noteworthy part of the article, in our opinion, is the summary of the possible uses of cell therapy. In it, it states how this type of cell therapy has already been used in very different diseases, which is undoubtedly a ray of hope for patients who suffer them.

It is also worth noting how most of the companies involved in this market are from the United States, although there are others from Japan and China, which are not mentioned in this Report.

Cell therapy is the aspect that seems to be more widely accepted. Although the report does not refer to it specifically, the best prospects within this field are focused on the use of reprogrammed adult cells (iPS) and mesenchymal stem cells.

From an ethical point of view, it is very important to consider the type of cells used, since the use of mesenchymal and iPS cells present no ethical drawbacks, unlike embryonic stem cells. Although the aforementioned Report specifies the name of the products obtained, companies that produce them and medical indications for their use, it does not indicate the type of stem cells used, which is an ethical limitation of the study in question.

Conclusion

Despite the promising prospects in these types of therapies, as the Report notes, “the companies dedicated to this endeavour nevertheless face major challenges, such as uncertainty about the funding of these products once they reach the market”. Therefore, “financial backers are calling for rigorous cost-benefit analysis of RM drugs in order to decide on their possible funding, meaning that the companies that develop them will have to demonstrate that their benefits justify their cost”.

JUSTO AZANAR LUCEA

 

 

 

 

Justo Aznar

Bioethics Observatory

Catholic University of Valencia