Rise in hybrid human embryos

ABC’s &apos Good Morning America' presenter George Stephanopoulos reports that Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden has concerns about a new variant of the hamster protein. Developed to help children with a blood disorder, the drug omicron that is commonly used in children in the US involves fusing a mouse embryo with a mouse hamster embryo in order to create embryos that have joint cells, tumour cells and growth plates. Mr Biden, who is at the top of the Democratic field, has been quoted as saying he would not put that into the public domain. ‘Scary science’ This is “really scary science”, he said. “The future [is] going to be about these things.” His comments came after the first media report about the hybrid embryos developed by Harvard University scientists. http://www.thelocal.de/news/536864 http://www.foxnews.com/id/3362280 “I am all for the development of science,” the 76-year-old senator said, “but the development of science does not mean it is free, and [there should be] regulation that governs it.” There has been a huge rise in the number of human embryonic stem cell lines in recent years, led by US scientists, who have licensed many for the use in medicine. After a ban in the US and in Britain, the government in the US last year licensed 26 of the human embryonic stem cell lines for pharmaceutical companies to use to develop treatments. By contrast, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in Britain bans all but “pure research” on human embryos. University of Colorado scientists led the research on the new mouse embryos that could become the basis for human life. Writing in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the researchers – led by Krishna Shenoy, assistant professor of developmental biology at the university – said they hoped they had provided scientific proof of the concept that such mice embryos would, in time, develop into human embryos. They were developing mice embryos which were preserved in liquid nitrogen and transported separately to a room in their laboratory, where scientists succeeded in implanting a few into female mice as eggs, but without genetic material from the mice, which in principle would leave the women unaffected. They succeeded in growing mice embryos in low oxygen environments, but found they could not develop embryos of any kind that had created an embryo from the hybrid organism. The scientists gave a 4-day-old mouse embryo a capsule which contained DNA from a mouse embryo. It then grew to form the mouse embryo, said the researchers. Professor Shenoy told BBC News: “Our goal was to get the mouse embryos to divide in a so-called nuclear transfer – allowing them to take on a human embryo’s characteristics. “There’s a large body of literature showing these animals form babies. Most of the time when we talk about zygotes and embryos, we talk about human embryonic stem cells, which by definition do not exist in mice. “I don’t think the creation of animal-human hybrids, or animal-human hybrids, or chimp-human hybrids, is going to help people. “I don’t think they will have a therapeutic value. We need better technology to do a more efficient job than we have been doing. The concept is so new that we really don’t know how it’s going to work.” Could you do it? While we’re on the subject, imagine one of you as a ‘baby zygote’, put in a capsule and filled with the DNA of another zygote, then exposed to some fluid or liquids and then given to another animal – could it happen? Would you implant one into someone else’s egg? If so, would you be worried about the consequences? Send us your views and experiences via email to [email protected] or by post to our online news desk. The best responses will be published on the BBC News website.

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