PROF ROBIN LOVELL-BADGE
Group leader, The Francis Crick Institute
“An ability to make interspecies chimeras would be valuable in terms of providing basic understanding of species differences in embryo development and organ function. If human cells are incorporated, then this offers the possibility of using such chimeras to study not just normal development, but the causes of congenital defects; to test the effects of exogenous [outside the body] agents on human development, from chemicals to viruses such as Zika; and to test potential therapies. It would also offer the possibility of growing human tissues or organs in animals for transplants – although this is still a long way off. The goals of this study are therefore highly laudable.
“There is currently much interest in these kinds of approaches, particularly with respect to animals containing human cells or tissues, and how far these should go. Experiments involving chimeras, whether they are animal to animal or animals containing human material, are subject to regulation in the UK via the Home Office. The authors of this study, who are based in the USA, have been careful to follow guidelines issued by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which match well with the UK regulations.”