Ethical challenges regarding the use of stem cells: interviews with researchers from Saudi Arabia

Ethical challenges regarding the use of stem cells: interviews with researchers from Saudi Arabia
Research Article
Ghiath Alahmad, Sarah Aljohani & Muath Fahmi Najjar
BMC Medical Ethics, 12 May 2020; 21(35)
Open Access
Abstract
Background
With the huge number of patients who suffer from chronic and incurable diseases, medical scientists continue to search for new curative methods for patients in dire need of treatment. Interest in stem cells is growing, generating high expectations in terms of the possible benefits that could be derived from stem cell research and therapy. However, regardless of the hope of stem cells changing and improving lives, there are many ethical, religious, and political challenges and controversies that affect the research, and mandated to establish ethical guidelines and regulations. In Saudi Arabia, key stakeholders play an active role in discussing the ethics of stem cell research and therapy. The focus of the study was to explore professionals’ perceptions related to the ethical challenges of using stem cells in research and treatment in Saudi Arabia.
Results
A qualitative research study was conducted to explore and describe the perceptions of 25 professionals employed at different tertiary hospitals in the various regions of Saudi. A thematic analysis was performed to search for and identify the most significant perceptions shared by the participants. Four themes were generated based on the ethical challenges of four areas related to stem cell use, including (1) forbidden and permitted sources of stem cells, (2) informed consent, (3) beneficence, and (4) ethical regulations and guidelines.
Conclusion
The study identified that there is a growing need to advance the knowledge, education, and awareness related to stem cell research and treatment in Saudi Arabia.

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