Embryos part-animal and part-human created

Embryos part-animal and part-human created

Embryos that are part-human and part-animal have been created by scientists at Newcastle University, UK. The scientists, who are researching into a range of illnesses, said the embryos survived for up to three days.

While religious leaders describe this development as monstrous, scientists and medical professionals hail the event as one step closer to understanding illnesses such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's better, and ultimately being able to treat them. Members of the Catholic Church say these experiments are akin to those of Frankenstein.

Team leader, Dr. Lyle Armstrong, was granted a licence by HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) to use animal eggs in research aimed at understanding how cells develop. Dr. Armstrong and team have been working on this project since the licence was granted and have made some very preliminary findings.

The hybrid embryos were created by injecting human skin cell DNA into eggs which were extracted from the ovaries of cows - the ovaries had had all their genetic material removed. According to the scientists, they used eggs from cow ovaries because eggs donated from humans are scarce.

Dr Armstrong is part of the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) and is based at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle.

The scientists stress that the hybrid embryos would never be allowed to survive beyond their 14th day. Their aim is to extract stem cells for research into a range of diseases, and eventually find ways of treating them.

"This is licensed work which has been carefully evaluated. This is a process in a dish, and we are dealing with a clump of cells which would never go on to develop. It's a laboratory process and these embryos would never be implanted into anyone. We now have preliminary data which looks promising but this is very much work in progress and the next step is to get the embryos to survive to around six days when we can hopefully derive stem cells from them," said Professor John Burn, Head of the Institute of Human Genetics, Newcastle University.

Legislation related to the creation of hybrid embryos

A bill which covers new legislation regarding the creation of hybrid embryos will be debated in parliament (UK) in May in the House of Commons. Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, had to give in to demands for a free vote (by parliamentarians) on this issue.

-- Hybrid Embryos - FAQs

-- Institute of Human Genetics

Part-human, part-pig embryo created in milestone research (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice