The Japanese government approved a request for stem-cell experiments meant to create an animal-human hybrid and allow it to be brought to term.
This comes after a controversial piece of legislation last year, one that not only gave the green light for scientists to implant hybrid embryos into animals, but also allowed them to bring them to term.
According to reports, the scientists are to are to start working on a project that will see human cell-infused embryos implanted into rodents.
According to researchers, the goal of the experiment is to grow organs viable for transplant into humans, and not to create some sort of bizarre new cross-species.
“We don’t expect to create human organs immediately, but this allows us to advance our research based upon the know-how we have gained up to this point.” Stem cell biologist, Hiromitsu Nakauchi, told The Asahi Shimbun.
The experiment would create a human pancreas in rodents using human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. They aim to grow the embryo almost fully to term (15.5 days to be exact), before harvesting it. If successful, they plan to move on to doing the same in pigs, if they can obtain permission to do so.
According to reports, “The Japanese Government has stipulated that an embryo with a brain consisting of more than 30 per cent human cells must be destroyed.” That’s in a bid to prevent the birth of a creature that could contain both human and animal genes.
“The number of human cells grown in the bodies of sheep is extremely small, like one in thousands or one in tens of thousands. At that level, an animal with a human face will never be born.” Nakauchi assured.
Of course, despite what Nakauchi says, there are many people who believe such projects to be in violation of ethical practise.
What do you think? Should scientists be able to explore such methods of growing new organs? Or do you feel like humans should stop trying to play God? Let us know in the comments box below.