Feeds

UK set to greenlight chimera research

Public support for the work

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.