Azara Blog: HFEA agrees that human-animal embryos can in principle be used in research

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Date published: 2007/09/05

The BBC says:

Regulators have agreed in principle to allow human-animal embryos to be created and used for research.

But scientists wanting to use hybrids will still need to make individual applications, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said.

An HFEA consultation showed the public were "at ease" with the idea when told it could pave the way for therapies for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

Opponents have said many people would be "horrified" by such a move
The government originally proposed banning the technique in a white paper last year.

But it reversed its decision this year in a bill which indicated ministers were minded to allow hybrid embryos which were 99.9% human and 0.1% animal, following a backlash by scientists and patient groups.

But the HFEA has carried out its own review ahead of parliament passing the legislation so as not to hold back research.

The regulator can grant licences to scientists to pursue such research, but will have to change its criteria if future rules contradicted its own practices.

A small step forward. Of course the opponents try to use the same kind of scare tactics that the so-called environmentalists used to demonise so-called GM food. But here the scientists have the health trump card to play. Everybody (pretty much) wants medical advances, and although the possible advances permitted by this technology are no doubt hyped, at least this story line keeps the public on side and makes them less susceptible to scare tactics.

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