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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Hybrid embryo ruling due

5th September 2007

Health regulators have agreed in principle to permit human-animal embryos to be created and used for research.


A consultation carried out by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has revealed that the public are “at ease� with the idea if it leads to new therapies to treat certain conditions.

However, scientists who want to use human-animal embryos for research will still need to make individual applications to the HFEA.

Scientists want to create the hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs to extract stems cells – which form the basic building blocks of the body. Their potential to become any tissue makes them critical to the research process. At present scientists are relying on eggs left over from fertility treatment, but they are in short supply.

Research teams from Newcastle University and Kings College London have already made an application, which will be heard in November.

The HFEA said the decision had been a challenging one to reach.

“This is not a total green light for hybrid research, but recognition that this area of research can, with caution and careful scrutiny, be permitted,� said a spokesperson.

Scientists have applauded the HFEA position, however opponents say many people will be horrified by such a move.

Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association’s ethics committee, said the decision may now lead to major breakthroughs in treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and other serious diseases.

The Commons’ science and technology committee has already given its backing to such research.


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