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Go ahead for human-animal embryo hybrids

The fertility regulator has given the green light for the creation of hybrid human-animal embryos.

Applications from two teams of British scientists were approved by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

Experts from King's College London and Newcastle University will now be able to carry out research using the embryos, which they hope will pave the way for new treatments for a range of diseases and conditions including diabetes.

Sensitive Issue

“Diabetes UK has made a public commitment to supporting research using human embryos," said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK.

"However, given the pace and complexity of this area of medical research, it is also committed to reviewing its policy on this sensitive issue on a regular basis.

"What is at issue here is not the possibility that science will create new forms of hybrid creatures. The law is already very clear that embryos created for the purpose of stem cell research will be destroyed.

"Nevertheless, the question of hybrid embryos does raise ethical questions that are different in substance from those raised in previous consultations on stem cell research. The charity therefore welcomes further consultation on the question and will be consulting its stakeholders in due course.”

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