Human-cow embryo plan7th November 2006
Scientists in the UK are hoping to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs for use in stem cell research.
Stem cells are the body’s master cells and have the ability to turn into any tissue in the body and it is this that puts them at the cutting edge of medical science. Early research has raised hopes stem cells may provide treatments and cures for conditions like strokes and Alzheimer's Disease.
But the researchers from Newcastle University and Kings College, London, have drawn criticism over their application for a three-year licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
The hybrid human-bovine embryos would increase the number of stem cells available for research. Currently women have to undergo surgery to harvest eggs, but the scientists want to use cow’s eggs instead.
Embryos are packed with stem cells and thousands would be used for research. The embryos would be destroyed after six days, once the stem cells have been harvested.To create them, scientists would insert human DNA into a cow's egg which has had its genetic material removed to create an embryo that is 99.9 per cent human. It would then be examined to see if it worked.
If given permission, the team will also look at how the cells are reprogrammed after fusion to see if any parts could be replicated in the laboratory.
Critics have questioned the ethics of creating a chimera – part-human part-animal - even for a few days and argue it could be dangerous.
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Title: Human-cow embryo plan
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 1034
Date Added: 7th Nov 2006