News Release

Scientists call for the inclusion of Muslim perspectives in stem cell policy

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Cell Press

Stem cell research has been responsible for major advances in medicine, but the use of stem cells from embryonic tissue is an active ethical debate. Historically, Christian perspectives have been the center of these conversations, but in a commentary publishing in the journal Stem Cell Reports, scientists recommend bringing in perspectives from the Muslim world, which could expand what is possible within stem cell research.

In the piece, the authors—members of a global stem cell research think tank—outline the Islamic world’s history of involvement in science and the procurement of knowledge and advocate for the development of societies that would amplify the voices of Muslim scientists and political and religious leaders on the topic of stem cell research.

“International ethical guidelines currently rest on prevailing approaches to bioethics, which are largely dominated by a principle-driven approach that sees itself as universal,” write the authors. “Nominally secular, this approach has deep, historical indebtedness to the Western Christian tradition.”

For example, the authors point to the “14-day rule,” a guideline developed in the United States and United Kingdom that limits the time that embryonic stem cells can be grown in vitro for research purposes. Though the guideline was developed in non-Muslim nations, it is followed in Muslim countries. While some Muslim nations are more conservative in their in vitro policy, others believe that embryonic stem cells can be ethically grown for up to 40 days, and allowing for more nuanced and inclusive policy could enhance research potential.


This work was supported by the Aga Khan University.

Stem Cell Reports, Dajani et al.: “Diversifying stem cell debates: Including Muslim contexts and perspectives”

Stem Cell Reports, published by Cell Press for the International Society for Stem Cell Research (@ISSCR), is a monthly open-access forum communicating basic discoveries in stem cell research, in addition to translational and clinical studies. The journal focuses on shorter, single-point manuscripts that report original research with conceptual or practical advances that are of broad interest to stem cell biologists and clinicians. Visit To receive Cell Press media alerts, please contact

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