Group leader, The Fran­cis Crick In­sti­tute

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Update -

“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.”

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