Testbiotech criticises experiments to create chimeric embryos
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Testbiotech, the Munich based Institute for Independent Impact Assessment of Biotechnology is highly critical of experiments attempting to create chimeric embryos by inserting human embryonic cells into embryos from animal species.
Damage for the principle of human dignity
In the experiments, human cells were injected into embryos taken from cattle and pigs. The cells then became an integral part of the embryonic development of the pigs, and part of various tissues. Testbiotech is warning against a development which can seriously damage the principle of human dignity. In addition, these experiments carry an inherent risk of increasing the number of new diseases, in particular, if viruses are able to cross over to different species.
“Ostensibly, it is being claimed that these experiments are advancing medical benefits, but any real benefits lie in the far distant future. In fact, to the contrary, it is very likely that there will be some severe negative impacts in the near distant future. This kind of research will not only increase the number of animal experiments, but increasingly humans themselves will become part of the experiments,” Christoph Then says for Testbiotech. “It seems that some stakeholders believe that humans are no different to laboratory animals.” The chimeric embryos were transferred to pig surrogate mothers and left to develop for three to four weeks. Most of the embryos displayed abnormal development, but some appeared to develop normally. Testbiotech is further warning that these experiments can lead to the rise of new diseases. For example, during the embryonic development, endogenous retroviruses might find optimal conditions for adapting to the tissues of both species.
Campaign “Set limits to biotech”
Due to the recent developments, Testbiotech has expanded its ongoing campaign “Set limits to biotech” and is demanding that the creation of chimeric embryos and interventions into the human germline are prohibited. Strengthening ethical principles is one of five demands posted on our website for public discussion.
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