Scientists create Britain’s first hybrid embryos

Published on The Independent, by Steve Connor, April 2, 2008.

Scientists confirmed last night that they have created human-animal “hybrid” embryos for the first time in Britain in an effort to develop new stem-cell treatments for disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke and diabetes.

The scientists merged human genetic material with cow egg cells that had most of their own genetic material removed. The resulting hybrid embryos were genetically 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent cow …

… The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority issued a research licence to Newcastle after seeking approval from the Government, which is proposing to update the current legislation to specifically permit such research after initially indicating that it was opposed.

Professor Colin Blakemore, the former head of the Medical Research Council, said: “These preliminary reports give hope that this approach is likely to provide stem cells for research without the use of human eggs or normal human embryos. The new Bill is intended to confirm the arrangements for regulation of this important area of research.”

Professor Martin Bobrow of Cambridge University said: “If it turns out to be true that he has so rapidly been able to create an embryo that could produce a medically useful stem cell line, then that would be a very strong argument for pursuing that particular technique”. (full text).

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