British Scientists To Create Hybrid Human-Animal Embryos
Scientists Create “Cytoplasmic Hybrids” or “Cybrids”
Part Animal/Part Human No Longer Mythology
British scientists will be allowed to research devastating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s using human-animal embryos, after the House of Commons rejected a ban yesterday.
The main kinds of admixed embryo permitted by the Bill are “cytoplasmic hybrids” or “cybrids”, which are made by moving a human nucleus into an empty animal egg. These are genetically 99.9 per cent human. As well as true hybrids, it also allows chimeras that combine human and animal cells, and transgenic human embryos that include a little animal DNA.
The most immediate implication of the Commons vote will be to allow teams at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and King’s College London, which already hold licences to create cybrids, to continue their research. Though they were cleared to start these experiments by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in January, their licences would have been rescinded had MPs voted for a ban.
Cybrids could carry the DNA of patients with genetic conditions to create stem-cell models of these diseases for studying their progress and testing new treatments. Human eggs could be used but are in short supply because of risk to donor women.
It is legal to culture admixed embryos up to 14 days and illegal to transfer them to a human or animal womb.