British lawmakers approved plans Monday to create human-animal embryos for research.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill would have outlawed the creation of "human admixed embryos" for medical research. But the House of Commons rejected the ban by 160 votes.
A second amendment, which would have banned the creation of "true hybrids" made by fertilizing an animal egg with human sperm, or vice-versa, was also defeated.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown supported the measure. He said he believes scientists can use the hybrids for stem cell research into diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
But the Roman Catholic Church and other religious leaders oppose this sort of research. They are calling it "monstrous" and "immoral." Several British lawmakers said the legislation was going a step too far.
The main kinds of admixed embryo permitted by the bill are "cytoplasmic hybrids" or "cybrids," which are made by moving a human nucleus into an empty animal egg. These are genetically 99.9 percent human.
As well as true hybrids, it also allows chimeras that combine human and animal cells, and transgenic human embryos that include a little animal DNA.
They then "trick" the egg into dividing so it becomes an embryo from which stem cells can be extracted.
However, any application to create an admix embryo will need a government license. Scientists will need to demonstrate that there is no other scientific way to find a cure for a disease being researched.
Source: UK Times, icWales.co.uk