Cell and Tissue Banking

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 11–24 | Cite as

Therapeutic abortion and ectopic pregnancy: alternative sources for fetal stem cell research and therapy in Iran as an Islamic country

  • Parisa Goodarzi
  • Khadijeh Falahzadeh
  • Hamidreza Aghayan
  • Moloud Payab
  • Bagher Larijani
  • Sepideh Alavi-Moghadam
  • Akram Tayanloo-Beik
  • Hossein Adibi
  • Kambiz Gilany
  • Babak ArjmandEmail author
Full Length Review


Regenerative medicine as a background of stem cell research and therapy has a long history. A wide variety of diseases including Parkinson’s disease, heart diseases, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, diabetes mellitus and etc. are candidate to be treated using different types of stem cells. There are several sources of stem cells such as bone marrow, umbilical cord, peripheral blood, germ cells and the embryo/fetus tissues. Fetal stem cells (FSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) have been described as the most potent stem cell source. Although their pluri- or multipotent properties leads to promising reports for their clinical applications, owning to some ethical and legal obstacles in different communities such as Muslim countries, care should be taken for therapeutic applications of FSCs and ESCs. Derivation of these cell types needs termination of pregnancy and embryo or fetus life that is prohibited according to almost all rules and teaches in Muslim communities. Abortion and termination of pregnancy under a normal condition for the procurement of stem cell materials is forbidden by nearly all the major world religions such as Islam. Legislated laws in the most of Muslim countries permit termination of pregnancy and abortion only when the life of the mother is severely threatened or when continuing pregnancy may lead to the birth of a mentally retarded, genetically or anatomically malformed child. Based on the rules and conditions in Islamic countries, finding an alternative and biologically normal source for embryonic or fetal stem cell isolation will be too difficult. On the one hand, Muslim scientists have the feasibility for finding of genetically and anatomically normal embryonic or fetal stem cell sources for research or therapy, but on the other hand they should adhere to the law and related regional and local rules in all parts of their investigation. The authors suggest that the utilization of ectopic pregnancy (EP) conceptus, extra-embryonic tissues, and therapeutic abortion materials as a valuable source of stem cells for research and medical purposes can overcome limitations associated with finding the appropriate stem cell source. Pregnancy termination because of the mentioned subjects is accepted by almost all Islamic laws because of maternal lifesaving. Also, there are no ethical or legal obstacles in the use of extra-embryonic or EP derived tissues which lead to candidate FSCs as a valuable source for stem cell researches and therapeutic applications.


Ectopic pregnancy Fetal stem cell Islamic ethics Therapeutic abortion 



The authors would like to acknowledge Dr. Mohsen Khorshidi, Dr. Seyed Majid Manavi, Dr. Maryam Kashanian, Mrs. Bararpour, Sara Amidi, Vahideh Ebrahimzadeh, Leila Morad-Abadi, and Rasta Arjmand for their considerable assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Parisa Goodarzi
    • 1
  • Khadijeh Falahzadeh
    • 3
  • Hamidreza Aghayan
    • 2
  • Moloud Payab
    • 4
  • Bagher Larijani
    • 5
  • Sepideh Alavi-Moghadam
    • 2
  • Akram Tayanloo-Beik
    • 2
  • Hossein Adibi
    • 6
  • Kambiz Gilany
    • 7
  • Babak Arjmand
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, Neuroscience InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  2. 2.Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Molecular-Cellular Sciences InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  3. 3.Metabolomics and Genomics Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Molecular-Cellular Sciences InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  4. 4.Obesity and Eating Habits Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Molecular-Cellular Sciences InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  5. 5.Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinical Sciences InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  6. 6.Diabetes Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinical Sciences InstituteTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  7. 7.Reproductive Biotechnology Research Center, Avicenna Research InstituteACECRTehranIran

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