Monday, July 25, 2011

Human, animal DNA mixing needs oversight

The fast-moving field of mixing animal and human DNA may need new ethical or regulatory boundaries for some experiments, a British panel says.

Friday's report from the Academy of Medical Sciences looks at the use of "animals containing human material" in biomedical research. Experiments mixing animal and human DNA is contentious.

Most experiments don't need stricter regulation, said Martin Bobrow, chair of the group that wrote the report. "But there are a small number of future experiments, which could approach social and ethically sensitive areas, which should have an extra layer of scrutiny," he told reporters in London.

Those sensitive areas include:

--Those where human brain cells might change animal brains.
--Those that could lead to the fertilization of human eggs in animals.
--Any modifications of animals that might create attributes considered uniquely human, like facial features, skin or speech. (more)