The next frontier for human embryo research
Writing in Nature, science writer Elizabeth Svoboda describes the recent technological developments that have potential to provide new knowledge about the early stages of human development and lead to the production of a new range of therapeutic interventions. These developments test the limits of embryo research by extending its feasibility and producing a new range of “near-human embryonic structures” (2021:S16) that become objects of uncertain standing. Likewise, she notes that the elimination of the 14-day rule in the newly revised International Society for Stem Cell Research Guidelines has both enabled new research and raised new moral and ethical questions about that research’s limits. At present, the future of research on both embryos older than two weeks and embryo-like structures remains uncertain, as legal and ethical questions persist alongside practical and financial ones.