Great Expectations: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technologies
New applications of iPSC technology to research on complex idiopathic conditions raise several important ethical and social considerations for potential research participants and their families. In this short review, we examine these issues through the lens of emerging research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We begin by describing the current state of iPSC technology in research on ASD. Then we discuss how the social history of and current controversies in autism research combined with the emergence of autism-specific iPSC biobanks indicate an urgent need for researchers to clearly communicate the limitations and possibilities of iPSC research to ensure research participants have the ability to provide fully informed, voluntary consent. We conclude by offering recommendations to bolster informed consent for research involving iPSC biobanks, both in the specific context of ASD and more broadly.