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May 18, 2007

Chimeras Approved in UK

The UK has just given the green light for the creation of human-animal embryos, overturning an earlier law banning their production. Reportedly, the purpose of these hybrids is to create new stem cell lines for the treatment of incurable diseases.

The reaction in the research community was—well, cheery. As geneticist John Burns put it, "I'm delighted that common sense has prevailed." For those with concerns over where this bold new initiative might lead, Professor Burns assures,

But what we're talking about here are cells on a dish not a foetus. We're talking about something that looks like sago under the microscope. And it's illegal to ever turn these cells into a living being.

I hear ya, Professor Burns. But somehow, I got this feeling that “common sense” will inevitably buck up against that challenge as well.

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