Human stem cells can be derived now in many different ways, but all of these approaches require a common starting point: Consent of the original donors of cells or embryos.
Standards of responsible research require us to be sure that donors have provided truly informed consent, but those standards have evolved quickly in the past few years. One of the difficult challenges now facing researchers and those who regulate research is to decide how best to deal with earlier informed consent documents that may not meet current standards.
Fundamentally, a key question is: Should we now protect that original donor by not making use of her or his donation? Alternatively, should we protect the expectation of that original donor that their donation would be readily used for research?
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