A secretive experiment revealed this week, in which neurosurgeons transplanted brain cells into a patient with Parkinson’s disease, made medical history. It was the first time such “reprogrammed” cells, produced from stem cells that had been created in the lab from the man’s own skin cells, had been used to try to treat the degenerative brain disease. But it was also a bioethics iceberg, with some issues in plain sight and many more lurking.
This story raises an interesting bioethics question. Should the wealthy be able to fund research, with a view to receiving the treatment it develops?
“When individuals paying to fund research leading to a therapy are also the first to receive it, there are concerns,” said Brian Fiske, vice president for research at the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds research on Parkinson’s.