HFEA Licence Human-pig Hybrid Embryos
Tuesday, 01 July 2008
A licence to create human-pig embryos to study heart disease has been issued by the British fertility watchdog the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. This is the third animal-human hybrid embryo licence to be issued by HFEA and the first since the Commons voted in favour of this controversial research last month. An HFEA spokesman said it had approved an application from the Clinical Sciences Research Institute, University of Warwick, for the creation of hybrid embryos.
The centre has been offered a 12 month licence with effect from today, July 1. The Licence Committee was satisfied that the research was permissible within the law and met the criteria required by the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
The effort at the University of Warwick is led by Professor Justin St John.
"This new license allows us to attempt to make human pig clones to produce embryonic stem cells," he said to The Telegraph.
He will study mutation for certain kinds of cardiomyopathies, which make the heart lose its pumping strength. He researchers will mainly study the power-houses of cells, the mitochondria, and genetic defects that affect their ability to support heart cells.
Teams in Newcastle and London are already creating hybrids. The former have already created hybrids with cow eggs to study the basics of how the use of genes changes in early development, the latter a range of species to generate stem cells from people with neurodegenerative disorders.
For more on stem cells and cloning, go to CellNEWS