Beijing: Aug. 3: The world’s first human-monkey hybrid has been created by Spanish scientists in a laboratory in China. The team consisting of Angel Raya of the Barce-lona Regenerative Medi-cine Centre and Estrella Nunez of Murcia Catholic University (UCAM) rev-ealed that they had injected human stem cells capable of creating any type of tissue into a monkey embryo. The experiment was stopped before the embryo was old enough to be born. The researchers want to use animals to create organs for human life-saving transplants and they pledged to continue their experiments using primates.
The scientists held the trial in China to get round a ban on such procedures at home. They said a human-monkey hybrid could potentially have been born. Ethical concerns were raised over the trial, partly over fears that human stem cells could migrate to the brain.
The embryo had first been genetically modified to deactivate genes that control organ growth. Angel Raya said experiments on organisms with cells from two species faced “ethical barriers.”
“What happens if the stem cells escape and form human neurons in the brain of the animal? Would it have consciousness? And what happens if these stem cells turn into sperm cells?” he said.
But Estrella Nunez, the project collaborator, said mechanisms were put in place so that if human cells did migrate to the brain, they will self-destruct. “The results are promising,” Ms Nunez said. The research, which was financed largely by the university, was costly. “If we combine the human /pig, human/rat and human/monkey research, it is many thousands of euros,” she said.
Dr Raya said scientists have traditionally set a “red line” at 14 days’ gestation, which is not long enough for the embryo to develop a human central nervous system. All chimera embryos are destroyed before that time.
Juan Carlos Izpisua, who created the world’s first human-pig hybrid in 2017 and led the latest experiment, said: “We are now trying to continue experimenting with human cells and rodent and pig cells, and non-human primates. Our country is a pioneer in such probes.”