We have created human-animal embryos already, say British team
2008 04 02

By Mark Henderson | timesonline.co.uk


Embryos containing human and animal material have been created in Britain for the first time, a month before the House of Commons votes on new laws to regulate the research.

A team at Newcastle University announced yesterday that it had successfully generated “admixed embryos” by adding human DNA to empty cow eggs in the first experiment of its kind in Britain.


The Newcastle cybrids lived for three days and the largest grew to contain 32 cells
The Commons is to debate the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill next month. MPs have been promised a free vote on clauses in the legislation that would permit admixed embryos. But their creation is already allowed, subject to the granting of a licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

The Newcastle group, led by Lyle Armstrong, was awarded one of the first two licences in January. The other went to a team at King’s College London, led by Professor Stephen Minger. The new Bill will formalise their legal status if it is passed by Parliament.

Admixed embryos are widely supported by scientists and patient groups as they provide an opportunity to produce powerful stem-cell models for investigating diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes, and for developing new drugs.

Their creation, however, has been opposed by some religious groups, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, described the work last month as “experiments of Frankenstein proportion”.

The admixed embryos created by the Newcastle group are of a kind known as cytoplasmic hybrids, or cybrids, which are made by placing the nucleus from a human cell into an animal egg that has had its nucleus removed. The genetic material in the resulting embryos is 99.9 per cent human.

The BBC reported that the Newcastle cybrids lived for three days, and that the largest grew to contain 32 cells. The ultimate aim is to grow these for six days, and then to extract embryonic stem cells for use in research.

Once the technique has been tested, scientists hope to create cybrids from the DNA of patients with genetic diseases. The resulting stem cells could then be used as models of those diseases to provide insights into their progress and to test new treatments.

It is already illegal to culture human-animal embryos for more than 14 days, or to implant them in the womb of a woman or animal, and these prohibitions will remain in the new legislation.

Using cow eggs reflects a short supply of human eggs. There are also ethical difficulties involved in collecting human eggs for research, as the donation process carries a small risk to women.

Professor John Burn, a member of the Newcastle team, told the BBC: “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 hope-fully derive stem cells from them.”

The Newcastle team’s decision to announce its success on television, before its results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal, will also trigger criticism from scientists.

Medical researchers said last night that the experiments were important, but that they wanted to see published details before passing judgment on their merits.

Article from: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style
/health/article3663033.ece



Related Articles
Chimera embryos have right to life, say bishops
Now scientists create a sheep that's 15% human
Science's new blend mixes man and beast
Human Cells + Animal Cells = ?
Why Embryonic Stem Cell Research? It's About Human Engineering, Not Ending Disease
Hybrid embryos could be created within months
Patent sought on 'synthetic life'
'Darth Venter' (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
Artificial life likely in 3 to 10 years
First genome transplant turns one species into another


Latest News from our Front Page

Magaluf bar where British girl was filmed performing sex acts on 24 men is shut down after police investigation into video
2014 07 26
Is this what the youth in Britain and Europe is spending their their energy, money, efforts and innocence on? The young girl, pictured, was lured into performing multiple sex acts after organisers offered a free drink although she thought a holiday was on offer* Council officials launched an official investigation after the video went viral Playhouse bar in Magaluf and entertainment ...
Prejudice is a Form of Common Sense - Hard-Wired Into the Human Brain, Says ASU Study
2014 07 26
Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger. So suggests a new study published by Arizona State University researchers in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," which contends that, ...
The State is a Bully
2014 07 24
In the history of Western philosophy and social theory, no really silly idea has been more successful than the theory of the social contract. It is in fact not a theory of the social contract. It is a theory of the political contract. It is the idea, promoted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that, at some point in ...
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
More News »