Great Expectations: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technologies
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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.
KeywordsInduced pluripotent stem cells Human embryonic stem cells Autism spectrum disorder Biobanks Ethics Informed consent Patient autonomy
EYL is supported by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and NIH grant P50 HG003389 (Center for Integrating Ethics and Genetics Research). CTS is supported by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The authors thank Lauren C. Milner for her contribution to the conceptual phase of this work and Vittorio Sebastiano for his valuable assistance with the manuscript.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest.
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