British Researchers Make Human-Animal Hybrid Clones Before Embryo Bill OKed

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 1, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Researchers Make Human-Animal Hybrid Clones Before Embryo Bill OKed Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 1
, 2008

London, England ( — The British Parliament hasn’t yet approved an embryo bill allowing the practice, but that hasn’t stopped researchers from making hybrid clones featuring both human and animal parts. Embryos that are mostly human but have some animal DNA combined with them have apparently been made for the first time.

The University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne science team announced it has successful created “admixed embryos” by combining human DNA with cow eggs devoid of any genetic material.

The announcement will only intensify the debate in the House of Commons on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill scheduled for debate net month that officially allows the kind of research the team undertook.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority has already given the scientists, and another team at King’s College, London, permission to engage in the grisly research, but the bill would codify the decision.

The scientists say the hybrid clones will allow them to be able to study cures for various diseases, but pro-life leaders and Catholic officials have said there is no reason to kill unborn children to advance science.

According to a BBC report, the hybrid clones lived for three days before dying and the scientists ultimately hope they will live to six days so they can kill them and harvest their stem cells for research.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally bowed to pressure from pro-life groups and lawmakers last month to allow a free vote on the bill.

Despite the announcement of a free vote on the initial vote taken on the legislation, he confirmed that party whips will pressure members to vote for the bill on its second and third readings.

The idea behind the change in strategy appears to be one of allowing members to vote against the bill initially and, once Brown can show the bill has enough votes to pass, requiring them to side with it on subsequent votes.

Members of the Conservative Party will have a conscience vote and will not be held to the party’s position.