Human stem cells, in this case made from adult skin cells, can give rise to any sort of human cell. Some scientists would like to insert such cells into nonhuman, animal embryos, in hopes of one day growing human organs for transplantation. Science Source
Human stem cells, in this case made from adult skin cells, can give rise to any sort of human cell. Some scientists would like to insert such cells into nonhuman, animal embryos, in hopes of one day growing human organs for transplantation.
An intense debate has flared over whether the federal government should fund research that creates partly human creatures using human stem cells.
The National Institutes of Health declared a moratorium in late September on funding this kind of research. NIH officials said they needed to assess the science and to evaluate the ethical and moral questions it raises. As part of that assessment, the NIH is holding a daylong workshop Friday.
Meanwhile, some prominent scientists worry the NIH moratorium is hindering a highly promising field of research at a crucial moment. Such concerns prompted several researchers this week, writing in the journal Science, to call on the NIH to lift the moratorium.
“The shadow of negativity cast around this research is going to have a major negative impact on any progress going forward,” says Sean Wu, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Stanford University, who helped write the article.
The moratorium was prompted by an increasing number of requests to fund these experiments, says Carrie Wolinetz, the NIH’s associate director for science policy. In the experiments, scientists propose to insert human stem cells into very early embryos from other animals, creating dual-species chimeras.