Feeds

UK set to greenlight chimera research

Public support for the work

Seven Steps to Software Security

The UK's fertility regulator is expected to give its seal of approval to research on human-animal hybrids in the UK. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published its consultation on the proposed draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill yesterday, in which it said most people consulted were at ease with the creation of hybrid embryos.

The consultation began back in May this year. The aim was to clarify any contentious areas, and seek expert advice on definitions of the terminology involved (gamete, hybrid, embryo). It also wanted suggestions as to how research into hybrids would be regulated and overseen.

The Bill paves the way for the creation of embryos composed of 99.9 per cent human, 0.1 per cent animal DNA. It prohibits "true" human-animal hybrids, but allows for so-called chimeras and cytoplasmic hybrid embryos. Any hybrid embryos would be allowed to divide for 14 days before being destroyed, and would not be allowed to be implanted into a womb.

The hope is that by using hybrid embryos, researchers can hone the techniques they need for research that requires human embryos, such as growing viable lines of stem cells.

The proposed legislation, which also covers sex selection of embryos, is proving highly controversial. Critics suggest that the creation of hybrid embryos creates confusion about the boundaries and definition of humanity. Others are concerned about the moral implications of research on any embryos at all: that the proposed research subjects are part animal, part human just compounds an already untenable position.

However, the HFEA's statement released yesterday said that although plenty of people have raised concerns, their fears have been easy to allay: "When further factual information was provided and further discussion took place, the majority of participants became more at ease with the idea," the report says.

Last month, the parliamentary committee set up to examine the Bill gave its approval, recommending that the government relax the current ban on creating hybrid embryos. It recommended a free vote on the Bill, and said that the HFEA and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) should regulate the research.

The Royal Society, which has been part of a campaign supporting the Bill, issued a statement welcoming the HFEA's report. President Martin Rees is quoted as saying: "It is heartening that the wider public agree with the scientific community that human-animal embryos offer the potential to better understand incurable illnesses such as Parkinson's and Motor Neurone Disease." ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.