Scientists to create 'frankenbunny' in big research leap
Scientists are planning to create a "frankenrabbit" by fusing together human cells with a rabbit egg.
It is hoped the "chimeric" embryos, which would be 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent rabbit, could lead to breakthroughs in stem cell research which could one day cure diseases such as Alzheimer's or spinal cord injury.
The embryos will allow scientists to perfect stem cell creation techniques without using human eggs.
"If we learn how to do this with animal eggs, we should be able to have more success with human eggs, and I'd much rather know that if we were going to ask women to donate eggs that we were very likely to get stem cells as a result," said Chris Shaw, at the Institute of Psychiatry.
"We know this is a huge challenge after Dr Hwang in South Korea failed to get stem cells despite having 2,000 human eggs."
Teams in London, Edinburgh and Newcastle are to submit application to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority this month, requesting licences to create embryos that will be 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent rabbit or cow.
The HFEA is encouraging the applications after legal advice. The embryos will be allowed to grow for only 14 days, at which point they will be cells smaller than a pinhead.
While chimeric embryos created from non-human species could be useful in developmental studies and as further evidence that there are natural kinds, this sort of experiment is abominable.