Scientists in China claim to have created the world’s first human-monkey hybrid.
The research team is actually from Spain, but they conducted their study in China to avoid regulations against this type of experimentation.
Last week, Japanese scientists made the shocking announcement that they were planning on creating human-rodent hybrid embryos for the purpose of growing organs for transplants.
However, it would seem that other researchers have already made some serious progress in creating human-animal hybrids, going so far as to create a human-monkey. These experiments are also seeking to develop ways of growing human organs for transplant.
The researchers injected human stem cells capable of creating any type of tissue into a monkey embryo, according to The Independent.
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Angel Raya, from the Barcelona Regenerative Medicine Centre, discussed the ethical concerns of the experiment with El Pais. Raya explained that one of the primary concerns is the possibility of stem cells somehow creating a conscious brain, which would obviously raise an ethical dilemma.
“What happens if the stem cells escape and form human neurons in the brain of the animal? Would it have consciousness? And what happens if these stem cells turn into sperm cells?” Raya said.
One of the researchers on the team, Estrella Nunez, of Murcia Catholic University (UCAM), says that safety measures were put into place to avoid this possibility. Nunez explained that the team has somehow implemented a mechanism that will force the cells to “self destruct” if any of the stem cells reach the brain.
The experiment was led by Juan Carlos Izpisua, who created the world’s first human-pig hybrid in 2017.
“We are now trying not only to move forward and continue experimenting with human cells and rodent and pig cells, but also with non-human primates. Our country is a pioneer and a world leader in these investigations,” Izpisua says.
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Advocates of both animal and human rights are concerned about the implications of raising a living creature specifically for the purposes of organ harvesting. If the organisms that are bred in these experiments are able to think or feel pain, then it would be cruel and inhumane to subject the creature to that kind of harsh life.
The researchers in China said that the experiment was terminated before the embryo was old enough to be born. However, it is important to note that in the forthcoming Japanese experiment, the researchers plan on bringing their human-animal hybrid to term, as a ban on the practice was just recently lifted in Japan.