The Neuroethics of Intracerebral Stem Cell Transplantation
Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Castle Mickeln, November 6-8, 2008
Regenerative Medicine and Neuroethics are two expanding areas of research on the one hand in biomedicine and on the other hand in the field of biomedicine’s social and philosophical implications. Although these two topics seem to cover completely different edges of the biomedical sphere, they are closely connected with each other in the matter of applying Regenerative Medicine to the Central Nervous System (CNS). This connection raises special ethical problems which culminate in questions concerning the ontological status of stem cells that become integrated into neural networks and their possible influence on the personality of the subject involved.
Neuroethics has established as a sub-discipline of bioethics during the last years. Broadly conceived Neuroethics seeks to examine the philosophical, social and legal implications of new developments in the neurosciences. Whereas some of the topics tackled by Neuroethics do not necessarily differ from classical bioethical issues like informed consent, protection of probands during research etc., others lie exclusively within its realm. This is generally justified by the special status of the brain referrring to the self-image of man. Both practical and metaphysical problems arising from the neurosciences are discussed well beyond the classic body-mind-problem. Examples are legal regulations of psychostimulants or questions concerning the relationship of the “self” and the brain, free will or the complex connections of behaviour and the CNS.
In the near future therapeutic possibilities offered by regenerative medicine will surely come to the fore. In Neurology and Psychiatry Regenerative Medicine aims at replacing lost or altered brain cells with the help of stem cells. However, before routine intracerebral stem cell transplantation for the treatment of patients is worth consideration many medically relevant questions and ethical concerns have to be clarified. If the brain is conceived as the carrier of an individual’s personality or of the self (or at least as an important substratum of these epistemes) then operations on the brain can be seen as interventions with or intrusions upon one’s personality. The danger of possible character changes as a central theme was picked up some years ago already in connection with the transplantation of brain tissue. However, the possibilities of Regenerative Medicine and the potentials of stem cell research should lead to resumption and reconsideration of the topic. For example, is there a difference between the substitution of degenerated neurons in terms of non-integrating cells, that solely secrete necessary factors as a sort of mini-pump, and stem cells, that are part of the re-establishment or the reorganisation of neuronal networks?
This wide-ranging conference will include plenary lectures from eminent scholars in the field alongside panel seminars, author-meets-critics sessions, outreach activities, and social receptions.
Individual papers are invited in all areas concerned with “Neuroethics of intracerebral stem cell transplantation”, broadly construed. The presentations shall outline the interdisciplinary dimensions and perspectives of the above mentioned connections between neuroethics and intracerebral stem cell transplantation.
Submissions should include contact details for all presenters, and should include individual abstracts for the papers. Please note that paper abstracts should contain a maximum of 250 words, and that all submissions should be sent, preferably in MS Word or plain text format, with full contact details, to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
PD Dr. Heiner Fangerau, Institute for the History of Medicine
Thorsten Trapp, Institute of Transplantation Diagnostics and Cell Therapeutics
PD Dr. Heiner Fangerau
Institute for the History of Medicine
Tel. +49 (0) 211 81 - 13940
Fax. +49 (0) 211 81 13949
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