Breeding brains? Patients’ and laymen’s perspectives on cerebral organoids

Dolly R Haselager, Sarah N Boers, Karin R Jongsma, Christiaan H Vinkers, Marike L Broekman & Annelien L Bredenoord

Published: December 2020


Aim: To explore the perspectives of patients and laymen with regard to the development, use and storage of cerebral organoids, in order to contribute to the ethical debate about this technology. Materials & methods: In depth semi-structured interviews with 28 patients and laymen were conducted. A qualitative thematic analysis was undertaken using a constant comparative method. Results: Three interrelated themes emerged from the empirical material: moral value; willingness to donate; and elements of good governance. Conclusion: Patients and laymen are most concerned about cerebral organoids potentially developing consciousness and potential misuse. They support the use of cerebral organoids under the conditions that donors are adequately informed and that there will be good governance. Perspectives of patients and laymen are helpful to enable responsible development and use of cerebral organoids in practice.

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