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Health Care Anal. 2007 Sep;15(3):211-22. Epub 2007 Mar 29.

Embryonic stem cell patents and human dignity.

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  • 1NIEHS/NIH, Box 12233, Mail Drop NH06, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


This article examines the assertion that human embryonic stem cells patents are immoral because they violate human dignity. After analyzing the concept of human dignity and its role in bioethics debates, this article argues that patents on human embryos or totipotent embryonic stem cells violate human dignity, but that patents on pluripotent or multipotent stem cells do not. Since patents on pluripotent or multipotent stem cells may still threaten human dignity by encouraging people to treat embryos as property, patent agencies should carefully monitor and control these patents to ensure that patents are not inadvertently awarded on embryos or totipotent stem cells.

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