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British scientists call for rules on hybrid animal-human experiments
Americans have considered mice, British have toyed with the idea of apes, now in China, there have been reported cases of combining human stem cells in, say again, goats?
Scientists have created goats with human genetic characteristics after injecting the animal embryos with stem cells, the Metro UK website reported.
Thirty nine bleating beasts, which look no different from normal goats, but have the blood and internal organs similar in DNA to humans, are being reared on an experimental farm in China, Chinese news agencies reported.
A team led by Prof Huang Shuzheng, of Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, spent five years transplanting stem cells from human umbilical cords into goat embryos. Their research confirmed that stem cells could be taken from one organism and transplanted into another without rejection.
Scientists seek to use animals with human cellular characteristics in order to better understand how to combat diseases and test new drugs. This experimentation, called "animals containing human material" or (ACHM) includes implanting mice with human tumors to test new anti-cancer drugs, and now, inserting human genes into the DNA of goats to treat human blood clotting disorders, the International Business News reported.
"Stem cells may have more plasticity than was previously known," Dr. Paul Fairchild of Oxford University said.
A spokesman for the Royal Society added, "This is not as controversial as taking stem cells from human embryos. It is better to use animals to begin with."
But Martin Bobrow, a chair of the Academy of Medical Sciences, urged the UK national body of experts to place regulations on animal research, especially implantation of human cells into other animals.
The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection called the goat-human splicing "bad science." Spokesman Sean Gifford said, "Precious research funds are better spent concentrating on human DNA instead of studying other animals."