An international team of researchers has created embryos containing both human and monkey cells, the Spanish newspaper El País reported July 31. The controversial project was conducted in China, rather than in the US where the project leader is based, “to avoid legal issues,” according to the newspaper, and ultimately aims to grow viable organs for transplantation into humans.
Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte of the Salk Institute in San Diego is spearheading the project with scientists from his own lab and those from the Murcia Catholic University in Murcia, Spain. The team wants to develop chimeras—organisms composed of cells from two or more species—capable of growing human organs.
The National Institutes of Health forbids the use of federal funds to create human-monkey embryos. China … has no such restriction. … Should a human-animal hybrid develop a human-like nervous system capable of consciousness, or be brought to term and display human-like behaviors, the ethical consequences could be extreme.
In July, Japanese researchers—including Hiromitsu Nakauchi of the University of Tokyo and Stanford University—first received permission from the government to create human-animal embryos to be transplanted into surrogates. … Although legal now, it remains unlikely that any of these animals will soon be brought to term … according to The Guardian.
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