Research involving chimeras and hybrids in Great Britain

In November 2006, Dr. Lyle Armstrong of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne asked the HFEA to permit the cloning of human embryos and collection of stem cells using egg cells of cows. In light of the shortage of human egg cells, Armstrong and his team highlighted the need to use animal cells in order to extend basic knowledge and to develop therapeutic approaches. Consequently, the Department of Health presented a bill (Human Tissues and Embryos (Draft) Bill) in May 2007 revising the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Inter alia, it made provisions for the introduction of exemptions from the legal ban on research involving admixed chimeras and hybrids.

The submission of a further request to conduct research on admixed hybrids stressed the need for a decision of the HFEA. In a statement from 5 September, 2007, it concluded that there is no fundamental reason to ban research on cytoplasmatic hybrids. Accordingly, scientists can be granted a license for this type of research if they are able to prove in the research proposal that this kind of research is both necessary and desirable.

In January 2008, both research proposals received exceptional licenses by the HFEA. The researchers were allowed to conduct research on cytoplasmatic hybrid embryos for a year.

According to the revised Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008) research involving admixed chimeras and hybrids as well as their creation are permitted by law under strict conditions.

Department of Health (2007): Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill. Online Version

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2007): HFEA statement on its decision regarding hybrid embryos. Online Version

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (2008): HFEA Statement on licensing of applications to carry out research using human-animal cytoplasmic hybrid embryos. Online Version

For further information on human-animal chimera see the module Creation of Chimera.

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