Head of the human genetics institute at
Dr Helen Watts from the United Kingdom Christian Bioethics Institute, the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, warns that the scientists are entering dangerous territory.
"We don't know what kind of entity this will produce - if it produces a human embryo we have a serious ethical problem, because that embryo will have a non-human partial mother," she said. Even if it's not a genuine human embryo that's produced, it's still morally offensive. I think it's a mistake we often make in this country, to think if you just destroy the entity which you create it's okay to create it."
However, the government has imposed strict regulations with regard to the use of hybrid embryos in any research laboratory. Scientists are only allowed to grow the embryos for a maximum period of two weeks, and it is illegal to plant them in a human.
There are three types of hybrids allowed under the new legislation. The first, known as a chimeric embryo, is created by injecting cells from an animal into a human embryo. The second, known as a human transgenic embryo, requires injecting animal DNA into a human embryo. The third, known as a cytoplasmic hybrid, is made by transferring the nuclei of human cells into animal eggs from which almost all genetic material has been removed. However, the legislation also prohibits the ‘true hybrid’ embryos, which would involve fertilizing an animal egg with human sperm or vice versa.
The ethical debate will likely continue into the foreseeable future, and continue to challenge the moral conscience of society.By Patrick Biggins
Medical News Today