CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Hybrid human/animal embryos created for research

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a hybrid monster: half-man, half-bull; now, UK scientists have applied for a license to create hybrid embryos using human cells and animal eggs for stem cell research to develop new disease treatments.

The "hybrid embryo will be 99.9 percent human and 0.1 percent animal." The therapeutic justification for the practice is to "overcome the shortage of human eggs left over from IVF treatments, which have been used for stem cell research."

But is it ethically troubling? Have we gone beyond cloning into unholy experimentation?

Proponents of stem cell research cite potential medical benefits, and say the research is necessary to help cure otherwise non-treatable diseases. Yet, as science and technology advances, it becomes ever-more difficult to say 'no' to new possibilities on ethical grounds, as the line between what is acceptable and what is not also shifts.

I'm reminded that there was a time, only a few years back, when I was wondering whether to bring an Internet connection into the home. Now, it is almost unthinkable not to do so.

And probably the "public concern" over research into animal-human hybrid embryos would have been much greater several years ago, whereas now the concern appears to be more muted.

Do these creations of our own have any form of consciousness--they would, if you buy the notion that everything has consciousness, and that utilitarianism alone is no justification.


Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law, with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

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- January 26, 2007 10:34 PM
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