A HUMAN-MONKEY hybrid has been grown in a lab in China in a world first scientific breakthrough.
Scientists have successfully formed a hybrid human-monkey embryo – with the experiment taking place in China to avoid “legal issues”.
Researchers led by scientist Juan Carlos Izpisúa spliced together the genes to grow a monkey with human cells.
It is said the creature could have grown and been born, but scientists aborted the process.
The team, made up of members of the Salk Institute in the United States and the Murcia Catholic University, genetically modified the monkey embryos.
Researchers deactivates the genes which form organs, and replaced them with human stem cells.
And it is hoped that one day these hybrid-grown organs will be able to be translated into humans.
Meanwhile, scientists in Japan are developing human-rat chimeras for the same purpose in a new biotech arms race.
Doctor Ángel Raya, the director of the Barcelona Regenerative Medicine Center, admitted the hybrid experiments do have “ethical barriers”.
He said: “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?”
Núñez has said however if any of the stem cells begin to form a human brain, they will “self destruct”.
Raya added that the embryos have a “red line” at 14 days of gestation.
This means that the embryo cannot develop a human central nervous system.
Scientists then destroys the embryos, and “in no case is the gestation brought to full term”.
The experiments cost “hundreds of thousands of euros”, Núñez added.
Núñez downplayed the fact that the university behind the research has a “catholic” moniker.
She said: “We are doing the experiments with monkeys in China because, in principle, they cannot be done [in Spain].
“What we want is to make progress for the sake of people who have a disease.
“The ultimate goal would be to create a human organ that could be transplanted.”
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