Malmö University Publications
Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Cells in Culture, cells in Suspense.: Practices of Cultural Production in Foetal Cell Research
Lund University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3571-4620
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative affliction to whichresearchers have long striven to find a cure. The human embryois a source of vital cells used in regenerative medicine, as well as apowerful symbol of life. Using foetal cells from aborted embryosfor transplantation to the brains of Parkinson patients is an avenuethat has been explored by neuroscientistson and off for the lastthirty years. This ethnological compilation thesis follows a nationalbranch of a foetal cell transplantation trial through successes as wellas challenges in processing foetal material into an effective, transplantablecell suspension. The cell suspension is conceptualized as abio-object, and explored as something that produces new knowledge,emotions and logistical and ethical negotiations. These products arebeyond the scope of the trial and biomedical research in general, butthey do nonetheless interact with and affect society at large.New biomedical inventions and forms of therapies transgress thelimits of life and death and the boundaries of individuals, as well asbetween species. Such cultural reordering challenges researchers,health care professionals as well patients on a daily basis. Exploringthe intersection between instruction and practice, nature and cultureas well as between science and ritual, this thesis contributes to abroader understanding of cultural and material conditions ofknowledge production. It also offers a methodological elaborationof how a diffractive approach may be fruitful in ethnographicresearch, when trying to reconcile epistemological differences incross-disciplinary endeavours.The thesis is itself a product of multidisciplinary cooperation, inwhich the researcher is affiliated with the milieus the Departmentof Art and Cultural Sciences and the Basal Ganglia DisordersLinnaeus Consortium (Bagadilico) of the Medical Faculty, bothat Lund University, as well as the Learning and Media Technology(LET) Studio at Gothenburg University.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund University Open Access, 2019. , p. 210
Series
Lund Studies in Arts and Cultural Sciences, ISSN 2001-7529, E-ISSN 2001-7510 ; 21
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54390ISBN: 978-91-983690-8-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-54390DiVA, id: diva2:1687243
Public defence
(English)
Opponent
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2023-01-10Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Medical need, ethical scepticism: Clashing views on the use of fœtuses in Parkinson’s disease research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Medical need, ethical scepticism: Clashing views on the use of fœtuses in Parkinson’s disease research
2012 (English)In: The atomized body: The cultural life of stem cells, genes and neurons / [ed] Liljefors, Max; Lundin, Susanne & Wiszmeg, Andréa, Nordic Academic Press, 2012, 1, p. 65-82Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

‘And if it’s going to die, that little foetus, then it doesn’t matter to me at what stage.’(Patient on the use of foetal neural cells versus the use of embryonic stem cells)

This quote neatly captures a central difference between patients and non-affected respondentsin a focus group study of attitudes towards foetal neural cell research and therapy forParkinson’s disease. The patients of the study displayed a pragmatism verging on unconcernin the ethical issues concerning the foetus and its human status; this to a considerably higherdegree than the non-affected respondents, who, on the contrary, seemed quite preoccupied bysuch issues.Parkinson’s disease is a severe neurological disease with symptoms such as rigidity, slowmovement, tremors and sometimes depression and dementia. The aim of this essay is toinvestigate how patients with this disease and non-affected individuals reason about researchthat uses foetal neural cells. The focus is on their thoughts about what is ethically defensible inthe search for treatments for Parkinson’s disease.As such, it falls within the framework of focus group interviews conducted in Sweden as partof the EU project TRANSEURO (<http://www.transeuro.org.uk/>).1 One of the key findingsof the Swedish focus group study is that the participants’ ethical attitudes closely correlate totheir relation to the disease. This means that whether you are afflicted or in other respectsaffected by the disease or not will be highly relevant for your ethical stance. I will argue herethat individual circumstances also largely determine the motives and effects of ethicalreflection. I also elaborate on the role of gut feeling in ethics (see Lakoff & Johnson 1999;Lundin, this volume) and how it relates to what I would term anthropocentric concerns.Ulrich Beck’s concept of individual ethical reflexivity in late modernity (1992) serves herenot only as a theoretical point of departure, but also as a point of discussion itself. This latteris a consequence of the results of the study confirming some general trends that Beck pointsto, but also revising some of them in addressing the issue that individual reflexivity needs tobe related to one’s experiences of, in this case, Parkinson’s disease. My argument that one’srelation to the disease fundamentally affects one’s motives and effects of ethical reflectionserves to nuance the generalizability of Beck’s theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Nordic Academic Press, 2012 Edition: 1
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54389 (URN)978-91-87121-92-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2022-08-15Bibliographically approved
2. Cells in suspense: Unboxing the negotiations of a large-scale cell transplantation trial
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cells in suspense: Unboxing the negotiations of a large-scale cell transplantation trial
2016 (English)In: Ethnologia Scandinavica, ISSN 0348-9698, E-ISSN 0348-9698, Vol. 46, p. 104-123Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Throughout scientific work and research,many processes and procedures are maderoutine, mundane and then taken forgranted. So are some underlying assump-tions – not only about the state of the nat-ural world, but about what its different ac-tors are supposed or expected to be orwork like. These assumptions are not onlydescriptive, but prescriptive. If we pro-ceed from the notion that expectations andbeliefs are written into our everyday prac-tices and made opaque even to their prac-titioners, it becomes an urgent issue tofind tools to better scrutinize and evaluatethem. This is, I argue, a matter of ethics.How such assumptions are written intopractices is perhaps as available as ever, inthe instructions, documents and processesof evidence-based science. When somepremises and practices are locked to eachother, others are excluded. The aim of thisarticle is to explore the dynamics of thisprocess in a biomedical research practice,with regard to how it affects what are con-sidered ethical issues and how they arehandled.Based on ethnographic fieldwork, I willinvestigate what happened when staff in alarge-scale and multi-site cell transplanta-tion trial in Parkinson’s research had toscrutinize their procedures. I want to un-derstand what subsequent negotiationsneeded to be done in order to progress; or,more specifically, what deliberationsabout perspectives, procedures and ethicalissues of the project were required to seethe trial through. The focus is on what thestaff described as causing the major delaysthat they faced, and temporality is subse-quently conceptualized as an importantfactor in the homogenization and repro-ducibility of science. I discuss how thenecessary changes and negotiations relateto the aims and standards presented by therationale of evidence-based science, andthe implications they have for researchpractice of future trials and for researchethics.I argue that investigations such as thisare crucial to better understand how ethi-cal dilemmas are not primarily abstractdeliberations addressed in policy docu-ments, but embedded in everyday prac-tice. I will also address the importance ofethnographic practices to this end.In the following, the content and theconditions of the trial will be presented incontext.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademien, 2016
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54385 (URN)
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2022-08-15Bibliographically approved
3. Diffractions of the foetal cell suspension
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Diffractions of the foetal cell suspension
2017 (English)In: Interpreting the brain in society.: Cultural reflections on neuroscientific practices / [ed] Hansson, Kristofer; Idvall, Markus, Arkiv förlag & tidskrift, 2017, 1, p. 73-94Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the quest for a cure for Parkinson’s disease, scientists have travelledmany avenues. One is the use of cells from aborted fetuses. These cellshave been proven to restore the lacking dopamine production in thebrain of the afflicted person. In order to place the cells inside the patient’sbrain, a so-called cell suspension must be made and administered, whichis a liquid produced in a laboratory containing mainly foetal brain cells.This can be transplanted either into rats for research or into human subjectsfor clinical trials, and theoretically for treatment.For people encountering the cell suspension, it enters their lives indifferent ways, giving it diverse shape and meaning; it also gives rise tomany different kinds of expectations. Thus, a delicate issue such as theuse of the cell suspension, with its foetal origin, provides a good basisfor discussing what I would call ‘science’s understanding of/engagementwith knowledge’. Normally when issues of participation in scienceare discussed, it is done in relation to how stakeholders and otherwiseaffected people such as for example patients and relatives understand science.The so-called ‘information deficit model’, where the public wasseen as lacking in knowledge and understanding, was a concept commonin the research field of the ‘public understanding of science’ (Evans &Durant 1995; Sturgis & Allum 2004). This model was gradually replacedby views in which engagement and information exchange were regardedas more of a two-way communication between researchers and the public;lay-people’s understanding was also seen as a kind of knowledge. Thedevelopment of a more reciprocal view of knowledge is expressed in thenewer concept of ‘public engagement with science and technology’ (see e.g. Stilgoe, Lock & Wilsdon 2014). Still, even with the newer terminologyand the ideas connected with it, much of the focus is on the ‘recipients’of scientific results, and less on those who produce them. This isproblematic, because it sets the researchers’ views apart as somethinglargely free from values, meaning and desire, as opposed to the afflictedlay-peoples’ views. In this chapter, I will give a more nuanced and complexpicture of how scientists value what they do. With the help ofinterviews with two laboratory researchers, I focus upon how they understand,value and provide meaning to the foetal cell suspension that theywork with. I argue that they do it differently, depending on how theyinteract with the suspension. The aim is to gain a better understanding ofhow the scientific knowledge comes into being in a scientific laboratory.The analysis thus problematizes how participation can be understood ina laboratory context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Arkiv förlag & tidskrift, 2017 Edition: 1
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54387 (URN)978-91-7924-293-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2022-08-15Bibliographically approved
4. Transforming trash to treasure: Cultural ambiguity in foetal cell research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transforming trash to treasure: Cultural ambiguity in foetal cell research
Show others...
2021 (English)In: Philosophy Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, E-ISSN 1747-5341, Vol. 16, article id 6Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Rich in different kind of potent cells, embryos are used in modern regenerative medicine and research. Neurobiologists today are pushing the boundaries for what can be done with embryos existing in the transitory margins of medicine. Therefore, there is a growing need to develop conceptual frameworks for interpreting the transformative cultural, biological and technical processes involving these aborted, donated and marginal embryos. This article is a contribution to this development of frameworks.

Methods

This article examines different emotional, cognitive and discursive strategies used by neurobiologists in a foetal cell transplantation trial in Parkinson’s disease research, using cells harvested from aborted embryos. Two interviews were analysed in the light of former observations in the processing laboratories, using the anthropologist Mary Douglas’s concept of pollution behaviour and the linguist, philosopher, psychoanalyst and feminist Julia Kristeva’s concept of the abjective to explain and make sense of the findings.

Results

The findings indicate that the labour performed by the researchers in the trial work involves transforming the foetal material practically, as well as culturally, from trash to treasure. The transformation process contains different phases, and in the interview material we observed that the foetal material or cells were considered objects, subjects or rejected as abject by the researchers handling them, depending on what phase of process or practice they referred to or had experience of. As demonstrated in the analysis, it is the human origin of the cell that makes it abjective and activates pollution discourse, when the researchers talk of their practice.

Conclusions

The marginal and ambiguous status of the embryo that emerges in the accounts turns the scientists handling foetal cells into liminal characters in modern medicine. Focusing on how practical as well as emotional and cultural strategies and rationalizations of the researchers emerge in interview accounts, this study adds insights on the rationale of practically procuring, transforming and utilizing the foetal material to the already existing studies focused on the donations. We also discuss why the use and refinement of a tissue, around which there is practical consensus but cultural ambiguity, deserves further investigation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central (BMC), 2021
Keywords
Foetal cells, Embryos, Abortion, Transplantation, Pollution behaviour, Ritual, Foetal waste, Abject, Embryonic ambiguity
National Category
Ethnology
Research subject
Health and society
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-45919 (URN)10.1186/s13010-021-00104-y (DOI)000695820000001 ()34521443 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85114900348 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2021-09-15 Created: 2021-09-15 Last updated: 2024-03-08Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(12589 kB)38 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 12589 kBChecksum SHA-512
9a53a894ece0e4884cf4cdae68f626d2faa1136c24af185db1062c56e9d1444767394716cd0de37923ba414da5b657c784555db492465d75fbc6110a69fdcc5a
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/files/56903049/Wiszmeg_Cells_in_Culture_Cells_in_Suspense.pdf

Authority records

Wiszmeg, Andréa

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Wiszmeg, Andréa
Ethnology

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 38 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

isbn
urn-nbn

Altmetric score

isbn
urn-nbn
Total: 73 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf