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Corporate Governance & Business Ethics Case Study

Case Title:

Stem Cell Research: The Battle between Business and Ethics

Publication Year : 2010

Authors: S Chaudhuri and S Paul

Industry: General Business

Region: US

Case Code: GOV0056IRC

Teaching Note: Not Available

Structured Assignment: Not Available

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Stem cells are the primal cells common to all multicellular organisms. These cells are unspecialised and undifferentiated cells and have the unique capability of dividing and transforming itself into any other type of cell and consequently specialised body parts, such as heart muscles and tissues of the brain, liver etc. These cells are of two groups. They are the embryonic stem cells and the adult stem cells. The distinctive feature of the cells make them a 'blank slate' with marvellous healing potential. Stem cell research scientists wanted to transplant the cells that would eventually replace the diseased cells in incurable diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, cancer, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), arthritis, injury of the spinal cord etc. Such optimism created a huge market potential for stem cell research. Analysts predicted a magnificent global financial market of US$100 million for the stem cell research by 2010. However, the growth of the market is subject to moral and ethical considerations. Critics of stem cell research argue that it is unethical, as they feel that the embryonic stem cell research requires extraction of stem cells from human embryos, which kills potential life. The case provides an ideal ground for students to discuss society's judgement for and against stem cell research. It provides a background for them to debate stem cell's lucrative market potential against its ethical and moral perspective.

Pedagogical Objectives:

Keywords : Stem cell, Embryonic cell, Adult stem cell, Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Market for stem cell, Government regulations, California, President Bush, Geron, ReNeuron, Biopolis, Korea, Ethics

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