Animal human embryo research approved, according to reports BBC News, news@nature and ScienceNOW, 5 September 2007.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology authority in the UK have approved research using embryos created by mixing human and animal cells. The technique involves removing the nucleus of an egg cell from an animal, such as a cow or a rabbit, and inserting the nucleus of human cell. The resulting cell is called a “cybrid” rather than a hybrid, because it has a human nucleus and animal cytoplasm. A true hybrid has a nucleus with a mixture of chromosomes for the two different species that contributed to it. The scientists hope to induce the cell to divide and form embryonic stem cells, which they will then use for research into stem cell therapy for human diseases, e.g. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Motor Neurone Disease.
The reason for wanting to use animal cells for this research is that there are not enough human eggs available for the research. One of the scientists who wants to try the technique, Stephen Minger of King’s College London in the U.K. commented: “The use of nonhuman oocytes (egg cells) for SCNT is currently the only ethically justifiable option given the large numbers of eggs required to derive cloned human stem cell lines.” (SCNT stands for “somatic cell nuclear transfer”.)
Editorial Comment: This research assumes that the animal cytoplasm will not make any difference as only the human DNA in the nucleus will determine how the cell will function. This is not true. Cytoplasm contains animal DNA (in the mitochondria), which must work with the human DNA in the nucleus if the cell is to function properly. Research on early embryos indicates that cytoplasm content has a profound effect on the early development of the embryo. As such, we predict that nothing will come of it that is any use for curing human diseases, and it is unethical to give suffering people false hope.
There is nothing ethical about this research at all. The Apostle Paul wrote: “All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.” (I Corinthians 15:39) Paul’s basis for this statement is that all the different kinds of animals were made as separate creations and human beings are unique creations made in the image of God. To try to mix human and animal cells is denying that humans are unique creations and flying in the face of the God who made them. (Ref. bioethics, stem cells, embryogenesis
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