American scientists are considering inserting human brain cells into mice. In Britain, it is illegal to conduct experiments involving the combination of human cells and the great ape family. In China, there have been cases reported about combining human stem cells with goats.
Scientists want to be able to use semi-human animals in order to gain much-needed insight into human health.
The extremely controversial issue of stem cell research and the idea of hybrid animal-humans seems alarming to many people. Furthermore, there are many risks involved and no guarantee that it will work.
Some examples of how science utilizes animals containing human material (ACHM) include implanting mice with human tumors to test new anti-cancer drugs, injecting rats with human stem cells to find out how the brain repairs itself after stroke, and inserting human genes into DNA of goats to treat human blood clotting disorders.
Emeritus Professor of Medical Genetics and chair of the Academy of Medical Sciences Martin Bobrow urged the national body of experts to place regulations on animal research, especially implantation of human cells into other animals in a report to the government ministers.
This is a complex research area and there should be ongoing dialogue between scientists, regulators and the wider public to address emerging issues. Our report recommends that the Home Office puts in place a national expert body, within the existing stringent system of animal research regulation, to provide specific advice on sensitive types of ACHM research, said Bobrow in a report.