by Steven Ertelt
August 28, 2007
London, England (LifeNews.com) — Top scientists in England continue to lobby the British government to allow them to make human-animal chimeras. The scientists want to infuse DNA from the eggs of dead cows with that of humans to create embryos that can be killed and harvested for stem cells.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, a governmental regulatory agency, is expected to announce its decision next week as to whether the scientists can proceed.
The researchers claim the process of inserting DNA into the cow eggs will allow them to gain a better understanding of some genetic diseases, such as motor neurone disease.
Dr. Steven Minger is one of the scientists who has submitted an application and he tells the London Guardian newspaper he is "cautiously optimistic that the authority will allow us a license."
"I hope we have made the case that by doing this research, we can study a number of genetic diseases far more clearly. The cell discoveries we make could then be used to develop therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s which affect so many people, but for which we now have almost no therapy to offer," he claimed.
Minger, who teaches at King’s College London, thinks using the cow eggs makes much more sense because cows are slaughtered daily and it would lessen scientists’ reliance on destroying human embryos, who are more difficult to obtain.
The pursuit of animal-human hybrids has pro-life advocates up in arms.
The Catholic Church has previously spoken out against the creation of chimeras and it submitted documents to the Authority asking it to reject the researchers’ application.
"At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and be treated accordingly," it said.
Furthering the controversy, the British government has proposed legislation the parliament will debate later this year that will allow scientists to create human-animal hybrids.
The bill mandates that the created entity, an unborn child who is 99.9 percent human and less than one percent animal, be destroyed within two weeks and not be implanted in a mother’s womb.
Catholic Church leaders in England strongly oppose this cloning technique and the chimeras it will create, but they also oppose the destruction of the human embryo the cloning process creates.
“At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and should be treated accordingly," Catholic leaders said in June.