They’re called chimeras — hybrids created by combining animal and human DNA for cloning purposes. Hybrid and human cloning have now been overwhelmingly approved by the British Parliament with the passionate support of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
By the way, any of these embryos would be destroyed after 14 days, of course. And, the Brits intend to set up rules and standards to control their use. Phew! Those embryos should be relieved that their deaths will be protected by standards that allow them to be killed.
Why go this route? Well, part of it is the rationale used by many of today’s scientists that if we can do it, we should do it, regardless of ethical concerns. Another part is that they want the embryonic stem cells which match a particular person’s DNA for future transplant purposes. And, scientists recognize that a shortage of human female eggs will not allow them to accomplish cloning on the scale envisioned. Seems that there are plenty of cow eggs available so why not use them?
Of course, no embryonic stem cell has been used on a single patient to date. And, the discovery of iPS cells in November of 2007 make both embryonic stem cell research and cloning obsolete. Since iPS cells act the same as embryonic, can be retrieved without killing anyone, and match the DNA of the person to be helped, why go down this unethical road?
And, will the U.S. follow suit? Rep. Chris Smith introduced a bill in late April to prohibit the creation of hybrid clones. The U.S. Congress has yet to pass legislation prohibiting the creation of human clones. Time will tell if the research fanatics will also drag their feet on outlawing hybrid clones.