Genetic experiments are always controversial. However, they do not stop, they take more and more risks. This is what researchers from the USA and China have done. His project consisted of monkey embryos with human cells.
Only 20 days
The scientists injected human stem cells into macaque embryos. The embryos in question were examined for a maximum of 20 days. Other mixed-species embryos or chimeras have been developed in the past. For example, human cells have been implanted in sheep or pig embryos.
The team of scientists is led by Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte. He works at the Salk Institute in the USA. This institution helped develop the first human-pig hybrid in 2017. His work could point the way to address the serious shortage of organs for transplantation. It will help better understand early human development, disease progression, and aging. The professor pointed this out. ‘These chimeric approaches could be really useful in advancing biomedical research. Not only in the earliest phase of life, but also in the last.
The study was published in the journal Cell. According to the professor, it complied with current ethical and legal guidelines. “Ultimately, we are doing these studies to understand and improve human health,” he said.
Some scientists were concerned about the experiment. They fear that others might try to take the work one step further. They call for a public debate on the effects of the emergence of mixed-species chimeras.
Anna Smajdor is a biomedical ethics researcher at the University of East Anglia in England. She sees “considerable legal and ethical challenges” in this.
“They indicate that these chimeric embryos offer new possibilities. We are unable to conduct certain types of experiments on humans. He believed the study “opens Pandora’s box to non-human chimeras”. «These embryos were destroyed after 20 days of development. However, it is only a matter of time before human-not-human chimeras are successfully developed. Perhaps as a source of organs for humans, “he added.” That is one of the long-term goals of this research. “
Sarah Norcross is the director of the British Progress Educational Trust. He believes that monkey embryos with human cells are the cause of the debate. “There is a clear need for discussion and discussion of the associated ethical and regulatory challenges.”