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UK medical body backs inter-species embryo research

19 June 2007

By Antony Blackburn-Starza

Appeared in BioNews 412

The UK's Academy of Medical Sciences has backed the creation of human-animal embryos for use in stem cell research, which is says should be subject to the same rules as research on human embryos, including the 14-day rule and a ban on implanting embryos into a woman or animal. 'There are no substantive ethical or moral reasons not to proceed with research on human embryos containing animal material under the same framework of regulatory control', said Professor Martin Bobrow, Chair of the Academy's Working Group who published their report, entitled 'Inter-species embryos', last week.

'Cybrid' animal-human embryos - a proposed technique to create human embryonic stem cells (ES) using 'hollowed-out' animal eggs - have been the focus of much discussion in the UK, following an earlier proposed ban on their use.

Last month, the Government published a draft version of the new Human Tissue and Embryos Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. The Bill reform the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which establishes the current regulatory framework governing embryo research in the UK.

As it stands, the Bill will ban the creation of embryos that contain genetic material from both animals and humans, but the Department of Health has stated that it wants to make an exception for certain types of research, including cybrid embryos. True 'inter-species' hybrids, those created by the mixing of animal and human gametes, will remain prohibited by the new law. Although the Academy's Working Group agreed there was no immediate scientific need to create such embryos, 'given the speed of this field of research, the working group could not rule out the emergence of scientifically valid reasons in the future,' said Professor Bobrow.

The Joint Committee on the Draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill has published an E-consultation on their website inviting responses from the public, on inter-species embryos and other issues.

British body backs inter-species clones/
Yahoo Daily News | 16 June 2007
BBC News Online | 17 June 2007
Move to lift ban on hybrid embryos
The Independent | 17 June 2007


10 September 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has agreed in principle to allow the creation of embryos that contain both human and animal material. 'Cybrid' embryo research - a technique to derive human embryonic stem (ES) cells using 'hollowed-out' animal eggs - has been the focus of...
06 August 2007 - by Dr Mark Hamilton 
Last week saw the publication of the UK parliamentary report of the Joint Committee on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill. The government is now tasked to respond over the next two months in time for the Bill to be included in the Queen's Speech in November. Certain key...
04 July 2007 - by Danielle Hamm 
The Roman Catholic Bishops of England (RCBE) have told the UK parliament that inter-species embryos - those containing genetic information from both human and animals - should not be treated any differently from 'normal' embryos, and that women should be given the chance to carry their genetic offspring to...

21 May 2007 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The UK Government has published a draft version of the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. The proposals will amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. As it stands, the Bill will ban the creation of embryos that contain genetic material from both animals...
10 April 2007 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has challenged the UK Government's decision to propose a ban on the creation of hybrid or chimera embryos, calling such a move 'unnecessary'. In the report, the MPs said: 'We find that the creation of human-animal chimera or hybrid...
10 April 2007 - by Dr John Gillott 
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee's report, 'Government Proposals for the Regulation of Hybrid and Chimera Embryos', is its response to two related events: firstly the UK Government's intention to outlaw the creation of such entities, announced in December 2006 in its White Paper (1), and secondly the...
05 March 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The UK Government's chief scientific adviser has expressed his support for proposals to use animal eggs in the creation of human embryonic stem (ES) cells for research purposes. Sir David King said last week that such work should be allowed under tight regulations, adding that it...
19 February 2007 - by Khadija Ibrahim 
The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) has given its backing to the creation of animal-human hybrid and chimera embryos for research purposes. The Government advisory body made the announcement at their most recent plenary meeting, in response to the current debate about whether research that involves the mixing...

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