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Science. 2017 Jan 20;355(6322). pii: eaaf9414. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf9414.

Human tissues in a dish: The research and ethical implications of organoid technology.

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Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, Department of Medical Humanities, University Medical Center Utrecht, Post Office Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, Netherlands.
Hubrecht Institute, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Princess Maxima Center and University Medical Center Utrecht, 3584 CT Utrecht, Netherlands.
IMBA (Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Science), 1030 Vienna, Austria.


The ability to generate human tissues in vitro from stem cells has raised enormous expectations among the biomedical research community, patients, and the general public. These organoids enable studies of normal development and disease and allow the testing of compounds directly on human tissue. Organoids hold the promise to influence the entire innovation cycle in biomedical research. They affect fields that have been subjects of intense ethical debate, ranging from animal experiments and the use of embryonic or fetal human tissues to precision medicine, organoid transplantation, and gene therapy. However, organoid research also raises additional ethical questions that require reexamination and potential recalibration of ethical and legal policies. In this Review, we describe the current state of research and discuss the ethical implications of organoid technology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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