150 human-animal hybrids grown in UK labs: Report

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2011, 00:00 AM IST

London: British scientists have grown some 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in laboratories over the past three years, a media report said.

The scientists have produced the hybrids secretively in three laboratories -- King`s College London, Newcastle University and Warwick University -- to look into possible cures for a wide range of diseases, the `Daily Mail` reported.

Citing figures, the newspaper said that 155 "admixed" embryos, containing both human and animal genetic material, have been created since the introduction of the 2008 Human
Fertilisation Embryology Act.

This legalised the creation of a variety of hybrids, including an animal egg fertilised by a human sperm; "cybrids", in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell; and "chimeras", in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.

The scientists say that the techniques can be used to develop embryonic stem cells which can be used to treat arange of incurable illnesses.

In fact, the three laboratories were granted licences to carry out the research after the Act came into force, the newspaper said.

All have now stopped creating hybrid embryos due to a lack of funding, but scientists believe that there will be more such work in the future. The figure was revealed to
crossbench peer Lord Alton following a Parliamentary question.

"I argued in Parliament against the creation of human- animal hybrids as a matter of principle. None of the scientists who appeared before us could give us justification in terms of treatment.

"Ethically it can never be justifiable - it discredits us as a country. It`s dabbling in the grotesque," he said.

PTI