Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Human-Animals Hybrid Embryos

According to an article in the Herald Sun dated 26 July 2011

UK SCIENTISTS have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.

The hybrids have been produced in secret over the past three years by researchers looking into possible cures for a wide range of diseases...

Figures seen by the Daily Mail show that 155 "admixed" embryos, containing both human and animal genetic material, have been created since the introduction of the 2008 Human Fertilisation Embryology Act. This legalised the creation of a variety of hybrids, including an animal egg fertilised by a human sperm; "cybrids", in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell; and "chimeras", in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.

Scientists say the techniques can be used to develop embryonic stem cells which can be used to treat a range of incurable illnesses. Three labs in the UK – at King’s College London, Newcastle University and Warwick University – were granted licences to carry out the research after the Act came into force.

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I have been struggling with the issue of chimera research for some time. It is difficult to perceive adding human genetic materials to that of animal genetic materials to create a totally new form of life. While is is easy to accept that chimera stem cells are destroyed prior to 14 days as the law required, it is hard to accept adding human stem cells to a chimpanzee brain or chimpanzee cells to a human brain.Where does one draw the line?
Worse case senerio - a baby is the product of fertilisation of a human ovum by a chimpanzee male genetic material and implanted in a human womb and brought to term. Is this baby human?

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