In DepthSTEM CELLS

NIH debates human-animal chimeras

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Science  16 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6258, pp. 261-262
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6258.261

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Summary

When Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, a developmental biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, heard from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) earlier this year that his was among the top-ranked applications for a coveted Pioneer Award, he was thrilled—but there was a catch. The application has been put on hold, the agency has told him, as NIH reconsiders its rules for the kind of experiments he wants to do: mixing human stem cells into very early animal embryos and letting them develop, a strategy that could produce tissues or organs for transplantation. On 23 September, NIH issued a notice saying that it will not fund such research while the agency reconsiders its funding rules. It has invited scientists and bioethicists to a meeting on 6 November to discuss the ethical questions raised by such experiments.

  • * With reporting by Jocelyn Kaiser.