Volume 44, Issue 6, June 2019
Alan B. Moy, MD
Morally Illicit Cells in Medical Research
The Catholic Church missed an opportunity to be more proactive and change the course of secular biotechnology when unethical cell lines were first introduced several decades ago. No ethical alternative human cell lines to the HEK293, WI-38, and MRC-5 have been generally accepted by the scientific community. While some animal cell lines are used in creating safe alternative vaccines, no alternative human cell lines for producing vaccines, biologics, or gene therapy have met the scientific rigor of efficacy and safety of these cell lines. It is both possible and within reach to create ethical human cell lines to replace current morally objectionable lines used for producing biologics (proteins and vaccines), but it will take considerable research that requires financial support. Dignitas personae should be backed by leadership and supported by stakeholders.