Under The Poliscope: Bringing Science Policy Into Focus

Next Steps on Research Using Animal Embryos Containing Human Cells

August 4, 2016

Biomedical researchers have created and used animal models containing human cells for decades to gain valuable insights into human biology and disease development. For example, human tumor cells are routinely grown in mice to study cancer disease processes and to evaluate potential treatment strategies. To advance regenerative medicine, it is common practice to validate the potency of pluripotent human cells – which can become any tissue in the body – through introducing them into rodents.

With recent advances in stem cell and gene editing technologies, an increasing number of researchers are interested in growing human tissues and organs in animals by introducing pluripotent human cells into early animal embryos. Formation of these types of human-animal organism, referred to as “chimeras”, holds tremendous potential for disease modeling, drug testing, and perhaps eventual organ transplant. However, uncertainty about the effects of human cells on off-target organs and tissues in the chimeric animals, particularly in the nervous system, raises ethical and animal welfare concerns.

Currently, the 2009 NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research specifically prohibit introducing human pluripotent cells into nonhuman primate blastocysts and the breeding of animals into which human pluripotent cells may have contributed to the germ line (egg or sperm cells).  Given the direction of the science, however, NIH felt that it was an appropriate time to consider whether further policy provisions regarding other chimera models were needed before making funding decisions. Therefore, as I wrote about last fall, NIH instituted a funding moratorium in September 2015 (NOT-OD-15-158) for research proposing to introduce human pluripotent cells into animal embryos prior to gastrulation stage—the beginning of development of the three germ layers.

Since the moratorium was issued, NIH has reviewed the state of the science and also convened a workshop in November 2015 to bring together leading experts in the field of chimera research and animal welfare.  Today, NIH has published in the Federal Register and the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts a proposal to make two changes to our policy in this area, for which we are seeking public comment (a table summarizing the proposed changes also appears at the end of the blog to assist stakeholders.) First, NIH is establishing an internal NIH steering committee to provide programmatic input to NIH Institute and Center Directors in making funding decisions for two areas of research in which:

  1. human pluripotent cells are introduced into non-human vertebrate embryos, up through the end of gastrulation stage, with the exception of non-human primates, which would only be considered after the blastocyst stage, or

  2. human cells are introduced into post-gastrulation non-human mammals (excluding rodents), where there could be either a substantial contribution or a substantial functional modification to the animal brain by the human cells.

NIH is seeking public comment on the proposed scope of the chimera research to be considered by the NIH steering committee. The committee will focus on the experimental design and likely nature of the chimeric animal model. The committee’s work will be independent of the peer review process. This committee will also monitor new developments in this field and provide analysis and advice to NIH leadership as needed.

NIH is also seeking comment on modifications to the NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research, where we propose to slightly expand the current prohibition on the introduction of human pluripotent cells into non-human primate embryos to include the preblastocyst stage, and to clarify that NIH will not fund research involving the breeding of animals where the introduction of any type of human cell may result in human egg or sperm development.

These actions are consistent with recently updated guidelines from the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), which suggest that a specialized review of certain types of chimera research is appropriate. The ISSCR guidelines also contain useful suggestions of best practices for experimental design, which I encourage the research community to consider. 

I am confident that these proposed changes will enable the NIH research community to move this promising area of science forward in a responsible manner. I encourage those interested in this field to to add their voice by utilizing the public comment form. While NIH awaits public comment, the moratorium on NIH funding for such research (NOT-OD-15-158) will remain in effect.


Frequently Asked Questions on Chimera Proposal 

 

Draft Chimera Policy Framework

 

Key Embryonic Stages of Development

Fertilized Egg → Preblastocyst (Morula) → Blastocyst  → Gastrula

 

  Current Stem Cell Prohibitions Proposed Stem Cell Expanded Prohibitions
Proposed Expansion of NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research
Nonhuman primate embryos No human embryonic stem cells or iPS cells (derived from adult tissues) into non-human primate blastocyst-stage embryos Expanded to include the restriction on earlier stage (pre-blastocyst) of non-human primate embryos
Breeding

No breeding of animals where the introduction of human hESC or iPS cells may contribute to germ line (i.e. make human egg or sperm)

Expanded to no breeding of animals where any human cells may contribute to germ line   

Early Embryos Neural Contribution/Effect

 

Proposed Scope of Chimera Research Considered by new NIH Steering Committee

Research in which human pluripotent cells are introduced into non-human vertebrate embryos, up through end of gastrulation stage*

 

*Note that NIH will not fund research introducing human pluripotent cells into non-human primate embryos through the blastocyst stage, per stem cell guidelines, but committee would consider introduction of human cells into non-human primate gastrula stage embryos.
Research in which human cells are introduced into post-gastrulation non-human mammals (excluding rodents) where there could be:
  • substantial contribution to animal brain or
  • substantial functional modification to animal brain

 

 

Comments

As a physician who is in the field of research, I feel strongly that this use of chimera crosses an ethical line. Science have advanced tremendously and we know so much more about human biology than ever before. However, I feel like the more we know the more I realize how much we still don't know. Advancing our knowledge in some areas of science can't and should not be approached with the same presumptious naivete. Some adverse consequences are much more profound than others. If the predictions are wrong and the safeguards are not enough, then the price will be the cost of our humanity as well as these new lifeforms that did not ask to participate in this frightening enterprise.
Agreed- I dont care for the false sense of familiarity and overconfidence in the scientific community for it betrays the fact that chronic illnesses are on the rise, the costs are on the rise and science tends to increase controversies. Its unfortunate they are so authoritarian that they seek dismiss any and all concerns of the public by claiming no one is qualified to have an opinion about science but scientists. They have become a threat and a burden to society. Reforms are needed- the sooner the better.
This is wrong. I am personally not a religious person, but there is no moral or ethical excuse for funding this research. To put it simply this is humanity once again playing god. Throughout our existence we have destroyed and used what we wished to further our own ends. Not to be melodramatic but when I read the proposal I felt physically sick. This goes beyond costing our humanity we will destroy ourselves quite possibly literally as well as figuratively. If this research is allowed these poor creatures will have fewer rights and a poorer quality of life than any other creature currently on this planet, and the destructive potential quite frankly scares me to death. This feels like something from a SciFi or horror film and I think the cost will far surpass any benefits. Even to have loved ones I've lost to disease restored to me I would not support this.
I absolutely agree! We need to stop trying to play God; it invariably backfires on us.
This is not right and can produce horrible results!
I have tried to post my 2 cents twice now & seems as though this comment opportunity is just for show. So without elaborating as I tried before, no thanks! It's immoral to harvest human being for any parts or creating hybrid creatures who have no say or rights! Sci fi as it may be, look at all of the books or movies/shows that once were fiction & now fact! A slippery slope without the wisdom to contain it!
The proposed research is entirely vague and nondescript, especially considering the potential future studies that have yet to be designed. Biomedical research has thrived most notably on the back of testing in rodents and, in my opinion, such rodent-targeted testing should be appropriate for the proposed research herein. To open the Pandora's Box of permitting testing on a variety of non-human mammals would not only risk the actual progress of such collective testing due to public disapproval, but would compromise the scientific community's reputation as a conscientious and ethics-based group. The creation of these non-human modified mammals would exclusively end in the structured taking of their life. There is no justification that bioengineering a human brain inside a cow is a fruitful pursuit when the scientific community has barely scraped the surface of understanding CTE in human brains via autopsy, for example.
Is that what they want to do? Give creators human brains and things like that? Is this an attempt to cross breed humans with other creators/animals?
Long live frankenstein science! Scientists know no bounds of decency and we all know about their fraud, gaslightingandreproducibility crises. Not to mention their authoritarian syndrome and eliminative materialism and their efforts to disqualify all nonscientists from any discussion on their work. Science has become increasingly immoral and fascist.
This is not something that should be decided by the NIH, but by governments and citizens worldwide. As Dr. Pham noted in her comment, we do not know enough, nor are we wise enough, to take on such dangerous experimentation as this. We should not take a chance on lifting bans on the mingling of animals and humans. Imagind the horror unintended consequences!!
Don't mess with mother nature
This line of research must inevitably lead to unintended consequences in the animals on which the manipulations are performed. The potential for a world resembling that of Dr. Moreau is not only real, but perhaps even unavoidable given the abundant evidence that, once set in motion, scientific tinkering will always find its way to the worst possible exploitation of any usable discoveries that may be produced. Surely there are other means of finding positive results for the types of diseases held up as targets (Alzheimer's, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc.) without launching the world onto a path so fraught with potentially dangerous implications for both man and beast!
These proposed next steps would not only cross certain ethical lines but pull others in and bend and reshape them. However carefully you proceed, how will any of us be able to judge what you have done until it is done? Supposing we end up with creatures that have more than an animal consciousness, as far from your intent as that possibility is, how would we even know? A thing could be very human and not be able to convey its humanity. I would rather have access to just the one heart and die of a typical human disease than live long in a world in which one cannot coherently appeal to our common humanity.
Chimeras are the Frankenstein of science research, crossing the ethical line of humanity and compassion for research animals. I vehemently oppose animal testing and agree it would be preferable to die than exploit humanity in using a hybrid organ, defying the boundaries of mortality. Bioethics for humans and animals must come before scientific research.
I have a question: in the "Proposed Scope of Chimera Research Considered by new NIH Steering Committee" box, under the neural contribution section, are the proposed changes geared towards understanding and testing treatment/cures for human brain disorders like dementia or Alzheimer's ? Or what research will be enabled by this modification?
I am opposed to spending my tax dollars on any animal expirimentation and especially this line of horrific expirimentation on animals. It makes me give up hope that we will ever stop torturing and killing animals in the name of science.
When I heard the story on NPR yesterday, the negative public response to this news was compared to the negative reaction to heart transplants when it was a new procedure. This does not compare. The risks are too great. Human curiosity and discipline are too uncontrollable. The vast majority of researchers would stay within the limits, but there are almost always a few who would push beyond and as someone mentioned in a previous comment, it would not be detected.
The nature of man is not basically good as each of us know in controlling our own choices and motives. If we disrespect the order of our world and introduce chaos into the code of primates we are guaranteeing a disaster. Primates have no place in this area of research at any level. We should know that when you begin to see economics enter into funding possibilities you will bring out the worst in science as we currently see in the world of vaccines and introducing fetal DNA into our children with the MMR and HepA vaccine. You don't believe it? Read the blogs of mothers crying for their sick and injured children and see the recent documentary "VAXXED" currently touring the US.
Could no agree more!
Please reconsider lifting the ban. It is unethicalto mix humanand and animals. You are playing God with a new creature that you have no idea how human they will be. I beg of you, please do not do this. And using government funds makeso it even more upsetting, but either way it is wrong. You are playing with fire.
I am strongly opposed to this type of research. I am not opposed to research in general but the stakes here are high. The mistakes are going to happen sooner or later no matter how many safeguards we apply. I am a scientist and a veterinarian and it is true that we just do not know enough to dive into this water. In addition, there are too many in the position of creating regulations that do not have the scientific grasp of what they are regulating. Just look at FERC ( Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and how they "safeguard" the public. The same kind of "regulation" could happen here.
People, what is wrong with you? If you were as smart as you think you are, you would have remembered that research on human corps was considered as unethical 100 years ago as you think GM is today. But, look, now we even have databases which is made out of body of two prisoners who were frozen and cut in 1*1mm pieces and photographed. What would you say now? I want genetic modification to advance to the point where people can create designer babies and change their own phenotype! So, if you are lucky to have perfect appearance and be born with perfect memory etc., live your life and don't hinder other people!
I am catagorically APPOSED to the type of research that crosses human and animal genomes. This is unethical, and all NIH scientists instinctively know this. I am praying you will see the error of your decision before it is too late to undo or turn back from what you are creating: chimera. You instinctively know this is wrong yet you seek to do this anyway? Why? Perhaps money? Consider who is actually behind this plan, who will actually benefit from the creation of Chimera. It has an evil origin. It is wrong to mix man's DNA because God created man in His own image. He forbids such actions you seek to undertake. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He does not change for any man. Those who cross this line in science will some day pay dearly for their folly. It is a sign of the end of days as fortold by Jesus Christ himself, "So as in the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man." In the days of Noah the DNA of man was mixed with the Fallen Angels to creat Nephilim or "Giants", the men of renown spoken about in Gensis 6 and in the Book of Enoch. Combining man and animal will only bring destruction, even if the intentions are altruistic. Turn back. Repent. Put your funding and efforts into more ethical research.
If this research has been prohibited before , it was because of moral restrictions. Why should you then try to pass laws to proceed. It is STILL immoral. The only thing that has changed are the men and women like you that want to play god. Be assured that there is a God and you are violating His creation and He is angry. Look around you. This world is antiGod and antiman. You have gone to far, I believe that you have already been doing these experiments but in order for you to use the results, you have get approval. You might think the public is stupid but let me assure you, that God sees and God will judge and if you think the extreme weather, the earthquakes, the volcanoes and sink holes or the enormous tornadoes and tsunamis are bad... I suggest you repent of this and seek God while you still have time.
Indeed such a decision should be seriously reconsidered and abandoned. It's consequences could be devastating. NIH is talking here about public funding - which implies that such research is already going on in the US as well as other countries. There are in fact numerous "unconventional" sources that claim the existence of Chimeras in most US states. It is also misleading to claim that such research is being done for the first time. There is historical evidence - however much it has been hidden from the public by mainstream science, the media and the education system, that we humans have messed up with animals in the distant past. The pretext of finding solutions to health problems is just a facade. How can we justify killing, say, a half-human and half pig 'being' who may perhaps have human intelligence, to take its liver or kidney for transplantation in a human? Stop playing God!
The public needs much more information presented in lay language before jumping in with opinions. Thank you.
Since tax payer dollars would be paying for the funding put it on the voting ballot. If government officials are unwilling to do so or the scientists who support this sick idiotic idea then forget about it. It will cause too much public uproar during a time when the government cannot really afford it. I hope that officials will realize this and stop the ban being lifted. However given the chance to make money people are not always intelligent.
I would really like to see some reasoning behind all these "it's just wrong" comments. *Why* do you say it's wrong? *Why* is it immoral? *Why* is it dangerous? These comments are merely a verbal equivalent of throwing ones arms up in the air and shrieking "Eeeew, that's gross!" If a proposal warrants opposition, it requires a cogent argument against it. "That's gross" isn't sufficient. A risk of abuse can be regulated. Suffering of the resulting organism can be prevented. The "slippery slope" argument is invalid - it can be mitigated. "It's immoral" is a matter of opinion, not fact. The conspiracy theory that says it's happening anyway is, by definition, unproven and (frankly) plainly stupid. The "God created man, man shouldn't play god" point equates to "God doesn't want it" and is of no scientific merit. It would be more constructive if, before making comments, readers actually seemed to understand what is being proposed. For example: B. Admassu argues as a conspiracy theorist. Marah bases her(?) perception of right and wrong on personal beliefs and wishes to impose her rules on those of other or no faith. Katrin Schulze worries about crossing genomes... Can't happen under these proposals. Marjory Lewter has her concerns, but could you really requie a regulatory body to have superior knowledge to those doing the cutting edge research? Her argument is akin to saying you shouldn't be allowed to vote without having a degree in Politics, or Administrational Law - although consultations like this do make one wonder... Denise Panettone makes an emotional appeal, but nothing more. Candis is obviously ignorant of science, hasn't read or doesn't understand the proposals and certainly doesn't seem to understand what primates are. ... to name but a few. It would be nice to see some cogent arguments here - with facts, not opinions governed by the "ick" factor.
What happens if these new creatures are more human-like than was intended? What if they can reason? At what "percentage of human" are they actually human? When is it okay to still chop them up and use them for parts? It could very well be that they are just "animals" but really, at what point will this new breed have a right to live? Maybe they just start out inserting a few human stem cells and then the science decides we should do more because it is cutting-edge and then we do more and then it just snowballs. It's like poking the bear. It's a path that we just shouldn't go down.
It's wrong for 2 reasons. 1. Cross species mixing of genetic material could lead to the creation of new diseases. Things that we may not have a cure for. 2. Suppose the things do become more intelligent? Than you run into the issue of rights for these creatures. 3. Could aid in the creation of bio weapons. 4. And finally, though you'll claim this is an invalid argument, but my gut tells me it's just plain wrong. This isn't splicing genes from stocks of corn here. (Which there's huge opposition to.) This is splicing the genes of living breathing animals. What happens to all the "failed" samples? They'll be destroyed. Though animal testing is necessary, the destruction of life should be minimized. This will undoubtedly lead to the creation of some really bizarre weird things, that should have never been given life to begin with. As a person who values all life, I have to stand in opposition to it.
No matter how this research will be performed, to sacrifice a partial human/animal creature with out his/her will is amoral.
We humans are something special. Do not do this to either humans or animals. We know better, you know better. We have a responsibility to pursue knowledge in a moral framework. Morality is not negotiable. Cross this line and many more lines will crumble. Please do not. I am rather certain you have asked for public comment to make us, the public, feel like we have participated in this process, while you have already decided the outcome. Please reconsider.
Sadistic and a waste of energy. Even worse, it is unethical and certainly not anything beneficial for anyone.
I am vehemently opposed to lifting the ban on mixing Human Stem Cells with animal embryos. This obviously is a natural progression from GMOs, cloning, human embryonic stem cell research, etc. There seems to be no limit to the greed for money and power that these scientists crave, causing them too stoop so low. We are already falling headlong down the slippery slope of morally and ethically dangerous activities all in the name of science, "inclusiveness" and "progression".
I echo the previous concern that the public needs much more information presented in lay language before we can provide informed input on such a controversial, ethically challenging research endeavor that affects the entire world population. The high level of scientific jargon used in this description is intimidating and off-putting to those who are not professional scientists. If the NIH truly values input from the public, I hope they intend to provide a lay summary of the proposed chimera research. Many thanks.
A chimera was a mythical monster. This chimera that the scientists even consider engineering is no myth and unfortunately they will open a box larger than Pandora's if they have it their way. Not cool.
Even granting the most generous benefit of the doubt to the motivations and intentions of those seeking to pursue this work, it is ironic to me that our sense of concern for the well-being of humanity is being invoked to justify the commencement of this chimeric scientific "frontier." Humankind is indebted to many remarkable and selfless people who have taken unprecedented risks with their own lives and made incalculable sacrifices of their own well-being in order to further scientific understanding that would lead to breakthroughs for the "greater good." However, and I would add, "as it should be," even the most "benign" scientific studies that involve humans require that they provide "informed consent," stating that they understand and consent to the possible risks and consequences of their participation. To "create" beings whose sole purpose of existence is to be subjected to experimentation should trouble anyone with a sense of what it means to be humane. Even if we have been desensitized to the price paid by lab animals or have been convinced that they face better odds and (at least temporary) protection in the lab than in the natural world of predation, this process of creating "chimeras" crosses an entirely different and "un-uncrossable" line. What manner of humanity will we be if we consent to what could potentially be the intentional engineering of "futureless" beings as non-consentual organ banks who are human enough to harvest, but not human enough to warrant human rights considerations in order to "possibly" or even "definitely" extend our, (well--somebody's) lifespan or improve our (their) experience of living? Please present us with actual testimonies of informed victims of debilitating diseases who are willing to add such moral complicity to their already immense burdens of suffering. A thirty day "public comment" period to address an issue with such important and perpetual consequences to our species as well as those who share our world is a travesty.
This is a horrible idea! Do not mix human cells with animal cells!
This in my opinion is so controversial and shouldn't have ever been considered. I greatly hope the the science community reconsiders. I want to also add that it is immoral.
This is absolutely a terrible idea.
Please do not lift the ban. Please do not allow the mix of human and animal cells. Do not try to create new creatures upon which we will then experiment. It's immoral and unethical.
I am not a scientist and have no scientific background. I understand the fears and concerns expressed about this direction in research. However, let's not forget (I am assuming) that the ultimate driving goal of pursuing such research would be to SAVE HUMAN LIVES. Yes, this research would involve risk. But if it offers the potential of saving significant numbers of human lives, don't we owe it to society and mankind to pursue that research? (unless or until the risk is clearly/scientifically proven to outweigh the benefits) Remember what Astronaut Neil Armstrong said: "There can be no great accomplishment without risk."
I am a biologist and have read many of the comments. I agree with the Major argument, that this research is amoral. I would also like to add one point of view that was not mentioned. These chimeric creatures will be, by some as yet unknown percentage, human (perhaps 10-40% or more). They could be considered someone's child/pig, or someone's brother/dog, or someone's grandchild/cow. We can not possibly know if they will be able to think or to communicate. Apes have been shown to have the ability of learning a sign language vocabulary of 400 words. What if in the body of a pig will be 50% of human brain. Is this going to be a human or a pig? A second point to consider is the issue of donation. Would any potential donor be comfortable with an idea that research will be performed on some chimeric organism that could be considered a partial relative? And that does not even begin to consider the consequent euthanization of these chimeras. I would imagine those women who donated their eggs for in vitro fertilization would not be comfortable with such research. However, no matter how this research will be performed, to sacrifice a partial human/animal creature with out his/her will is amoral.
Sound like a way to turn people in to a food source...in the long run....
As a physician and a firm believer in the sovereignty of God I am most concerned that this type of research is going way to far. I certainly understand that sometimes cures for human suffering can be identified from unorthodox processes but the more we decide we can 'fix' God the more we are transgressing his authority in over mankind. The Neshama - life-breath from God's creation of man is his gift to humanity and is what sets us apart chimera work goes too far.
To other concerned citizens remember to send your comments to the Office of Science Policy Public comments may be entered at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/rfi.cfm?ID=57. Comments may also be mailed to: Office of Science Policy, National Institutes of Health, 6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-9838. Comments will be made publicly available. Comments received, including any personal information, will be posted without change to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/responses_57.cfm.
No Thank you This has so may ways to go so very wrong.
No thanks & we have no right to be messing around with this stuff- gmo's,chimeras, designer babies, Ubermen, & all the rest! This is a slippery slope that starts with good intentions & ends up in disaster! Where God isn't involved there is trouble! Only our Sovereign God has the right to create in this way! "As in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man." Aside from the Lord, this is the increase of knowledge with out the wisdom. Reading many of the comments, I must agree that this is amoral, unethical, & wrong! Who & what will be a possible relative & a poor creature who has no say so in it's final outcome. I don't think science fiction is too far off. Perhaps many of these stories & movies are to prepare our minds for the advent of these things! I vote no for many reasons! It's not right & don't do it!!
I am totally opposed to this. Transhumanism should not be even considered. Human life is to be valued and to be considered sacred. I do not want my tax money to fund such an abhorrent experiments!
Unethical, immoral & beyond our capability to fully understand what is being messed with! A slippery slope that may lead to beings which deserve to know why & may at some point ask that question? When does a human / animal hybrid become human? Does anyone truly know other that The Creator Himself!! Hasn't humanity & the scientific community done enough to mess things up with good intentions? Do we have sufficient wisdom for the technology we discover? I say no thank you!
I urge the NIH to adhere to the following ethical guidelines regarding chimera research: 1. No killing of human embryos. 2. The human/animal chimera will not have the capability to produce human sperm or eggs. 3. The chimera will not be given human cells with potential to become part of the brain.
This comment is directed specifically to Francis Collins, Director of the NIH: Mr. Collins, you stated in a National Geographic article, dated MArch 19, 2015 that you are a man of science and faith. You were asked: As a geneticist, you've studied human life at a fundamental level. Is there a miracle woven in there somewhere? And you responded: "Oh yes. At the most fundamental level, it's a miracle that there's a universe at all. It's a miracle that it HAS ORDER, fine-tuning that allows the possibility of complexity, and LAWS THAT FOLLOW PRECISE MATHEMATICAL FORMULAS". My question to you, personally, Mr. Collins, is why then would you consider allowing the NIH to lift the ban on research funds for the creation of human/animal embryos? Doesn't the blending of human and animal DNA, and the creation of human-animal hybrid beings, affect the very ORDER and LAWS THAT FOLLOW PRECISE MATHEMATICAL FORMULAS to which you state is a profound truth of the Universe? I realize, much to my despair, that funding for this type of research is available from other sources, namely, California's state stem-cell agency and the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine; that scientists have already begun experiments and have, with the support of these funding sources, already created pig-human and sheep-human chimeras. This is profoundly disturbing as this new line of research (which the NIH is considering to fund) goes further because it involves placing human cells into an animal embryo at the very earliest stage, when it is a sphere of just a dozen cells in a laboratory dish. This process of "embryo complementation", is significant because the human cells can multiply, specialize, and potentially contribute to any part of the animal's body as it develops. What if the contribution of human cells contributed to 100% of the brain? What if the embryo that develops is mostly human? I implore you, Mr. Collins, to remain cognizant of the serious eithical issues, profound disrespect, and suffering that enabling this horrific research will cause to animals, humans and to our humanity.
If this research can help people in need of organ transplants then let's support the research!
I strongly object to making a creature that is part human and part animal...it is a disregard for human life and animal life. May God help us all.Kathleen Stadler
I object strongly to the NIH's proposal to rescind its moratorium on funding of research involving human-animal chimeras. I do not want my tax dollars being used for grossly unethical research involving the creation and manipulation of part-human, part-animal beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals. This proposed research raises all the ethical problems of human embryonic stem cell research in general and serious additional problems related to the creation of human-animal beings with partly or substantially human brains and/or human gametes. I also object strongly to the NIH's apparent lack of consideration for the ethical issues implicated by this research. Indeed, the NIH pledged to "undertake a deliberative process to evaluate the state of the science in this area, the ethical issues that should be considered, and the relevant animal welfare concerns associated with these types of studies" when the moratorium was put in place in 2015. Yet, to date there is no evidence of any discussion of the ethical issues involved in creating partly human animals. I strongly urge you to maintain the current moratorium on funding research involving the creation and manipulation of human-animal chimeras.
Rather than bringing innocent, sentient beings into the world to be tortured and killed, the government should be funding research to find the root causes of illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer. Fund research to find solutions to water and air pollution, to reduce radiation in the environment and detoxify contaminated soil caused by pesticides and the widespread use of toxic fertilizers since the 1970’s. Provide funding on research to create broad cultural shifts and changes in our lifestyles so there is less radiation, less water and air pollution and more nutritious, natural foods. Furthermore, if you at NIH are unable to imagine yourself as one of these beings and the misery it would be subjected to, you have no business being employed by the National Institute of Health funded by taxpayers. You are not God. You are employees of the American people.
Regarding grants to create human-animal chimeras Using embryonic stem cells means destroying human children. Further, embryonic stem cells grow rapidly and randomly. Please consider induced pluripotent stem cells instead. Human-animal chimeras should not be used to produce human sex cells for fertilization nor should chimeras be used to produce human brain cells. This research is a minefield of egregious civil rights abuses and animal rights issues. Who will police unethical research when some in the scientific community believe there is no difference between humans and animals? Some have voiced animals are more valuable than some humans. Add profit to a nihilist view of life and the outcome may be more terrible than we can imagine. I note even the NIH Office of Science Policy website makes a reference to "non-human primates". The very use of this phrase gives you some idea of the lack of thought and control already behind this proposed research. Please do not open the door to a murderous pseudo-science which could result in a return to the sort of human experiments done in the early twentieth century.
I strongly object to the NIH's proposal to rescind its moratorium on funding of research involving human-animal chimeras. I do not want my tax dollars being used for unethical research involving the creation and manipulation of part-human, part-animal beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals. This proposed research raises all the ethical problems of human embryonic stem cell research in general and serious additional problems related to the creation of human-animal beings with partly or substantially human brains and/or human gametes. Please maintain the current moratorium on funding research involving the creation and manipulation of human-animal chimeras.
From what I read it seems you speak more gently & carefully to those who might have misgivings over animal rights being infringed upon. While embryos of unborn children will be used and nothing said about that. Red flags are down all over the place on this one. I HOPE you would not go forward with this.
I strongly object to this kind of research. I do not want my tax dollars used for unethical research. Stop playing God.
Where is this world going? i do NOT want my tax dolars being used for unethuical research involving creation and manipulation of part-human, part-animal beings. This is going way beyond our Christian and moral believes. Did everyone forget about our God??? Lord, Help this crazy world.
The very thought of this makes me shutter, chimeras, ugg. No, please no!
Absolutely not. This not in God's plan for man!!!!
Dear Dr. Wolinetz, Given the depth and breadth of suspicion and skepticism that the public has with regards to unbridled science, it is imprudent at the very least to not take seriously an alarmed public. A common response to the mixing of human and animal embryos is met with shock and disgust. It is an obvious moral and ethical concern. Therefore NIH may place themselves in serious jeopardy by moving forward in a tone deaf manner within this new field. I would recommend a healthy dose of caution and respect for the ethical questions being expressed by many who have taken the time to write you.
I am against the intermingling of human and animal cells for research purposes. This opens the door to unintended consequences and ethical issues that once opened are not easily closed. Our tax money should not be used for these purposes.
I strongly urge the NIH to reinstate the moratorium because of the enormous potential for this type of research to violate human rights. Setting aside influences of religious persuasion, it is generally agreed that one of the most fundamental human rights is the right to bodily integrity. The types of animals that could be created as a result of this research would themselves be a direct violation of this basic right. Though human consciousness remains mysterious in many ways, it is also generally agreed that there is something linking human biology and consciousness such that human consciousness is connected in to the biology of the human organism. In a genetically-engineered chimera, there is no guarantee that elements of human consciousness would not emerge. The very possibility of the emergence of human consciousness within such a being should shock and horrify us. Not in the sense of fearing for our own safety, as in the sci-fi scenario where another species turn against us and seeks to destroy us. But shock and horror at the idea that a fellow human mind is deprived of a basic human right: the right to be embodied in a fully human body. If we are appalled at the reports of human suffering due to things like rape, torture, female genital mutilation, and genocide, how much more should we be outraged by a human consciousness being denied the very experience of being recognized as a human, without which a person cannot even be fully a member of their species. This is not to mention the denial of the full use of human faculties such as reason and language which would be suffered by the human mind lacking a human body. It might be claimed that this eventuality (ie. the emergence of human consciousness in such beings) is a remote possibility. But I caution everyone involved in research decisions to consider whether they are bringing us one step closer to such an eventuality. If they are, those individuals will be complicit in creating a massive, unprecedented crisis in human rights; one that will forever blur the lines of what human rights are. For the person concerned with social justice, the shock and horror to which I refer should be stirred from a place of compassion. A compassion which sees oneself in other human minds, and seeks, for the other, the best human experience possible. The person of compassion who seeks justice will do everything in her power to protect the bodily integrity of all humans, and this project clearly does not include chimera research.
this is so wrong, I cannot even express what kind of mind would want to even attempt to experiment with animals and human cells in this way. It is like the Island of Dr. Moreaue (sp) . Has ou society become so sick that we think we can create what was never meant to be created, take the whole creative process out of the hands of a higher power. Now man has made himself god of all. This is truly sick.
I strongly protest this unethical and terrifying research. Has science lost it's soul? I agree with the previous comments attacking this proposal as an abomination, pure and simple.
I do not agree to making any changes to the current laws or regulations concerning research using animal embryos containing human cells.
Any human pluripotent stem cell has potential but not all have beneficial effects. Most medical progress from pluripotent stem cells is only successful when derived from adult cells while embryonic stem cells lead to cancer. As long as the production of human-animal chimeras degrades the dignity of humanity by either sacrificing human zygotes or by some other negative effect such as an unknown disease it will not enrich man. If the brain is what determines what one is. And if any human pluripotent stem cells introduced into a non-human primate embryo causes the life form to develop it's brain human. Then the resultant life form will be human. And since humans have a higher dignity than to be the product of an experiment in the laboratory, the introduction of the pluripotent stem cell would be unjust. To introduce human pluripotent stem cells into the blastocyst stage of nonhuman primate embryos is also immature. The use of hESCs is only part of the problem. The production of any life form in the lab that results in a modified human is a sign of irresponsibility. Also, because humans have a higher dignity than non-humans, animals who have less responsibility should not produce human gametes since they by definition are less responsible.
I oppose this research and the use of tax-payer dollars to fund any part of Chimera research. My question is what is the end goal? Where will this research take us? Science needs to advance the understanding of the uniqueness of creation in all of its forms and the balance that brings to the universe. By mixing human and animal stem cells will only lead to chaos. I urge you to maintain the moratorium on Chimera research
I strongly oppose this research. It is horrible and wrong.
I strongly oppose any research on primates as they experience pain and suffering during the research process. It is unethical and there are other methods available (such as computer modeling) rather than making primates live isolated, painful lives in research centers. We should be considering not only human rights but rights of those non-human species as well.
I object strongly to the NIH's proposal to rescind its moratorium on funding of human-animal chimeras. I do not want my tax dollars being used for grossly unethical research involving the creation and manipulation of part-human, part-animal beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals. This proposed research raises all the ethical problems of human embryonic stem cell research in general and serious additional problems related to the creation of human-animal beings with partly or substantially human brains and/or human gametes. I also object strongly to the NIH's apparent lack of consideration for the ethical issues implicated by this research. Indeed, the NIH pledged to "undertake a deliberative process to evaluate the state of the science in this area, the ethical issues that should be considered, and the relevant animal welfare concerns associated with these types of studies" when the moratorium was put in place in 2015. Yet, to date there is no evidence of any discussion of the ethical issues involved in creating partly human animals. At a minimum, the NIH should give far more serious consideration to the significant ethical problems associated with this research before seeking to fund human-animal chimera research.
I find this research very disturbing on so many levels. I think there must be other promising research so that we don't need to go down this road. I agree that this should be banned. Human life is unique and precious and shouldn't be so cavalierly manipulated.
While some things are possible, the are not always efficacious. As smart as we think we are, in the end we really don't have ultimate knowledge of pending results. It has been said that science is "what we think we know about what we think we know". In this case I fear we really don't know enough to make intelligent decisions which are dabbling with the ultimate design of the universe. What happens if things go "wrong"? I would caution to rethink this experiment.
Why were these methods banned before? Why are public comments closed already when we are only just hearing of this? Is this country being run by the people for the people? Or did our president & govt. just wake up one day and decide we should becomea communist country and wipe our roots of In God we Trust off gave of the earth? Much like many cultures and races... America and In God we Trust actually means something to most of us! I think God did a perfect job when He created us. I don't believe we need your help mixing animals with us. I do believe sirdied and madam that we could use more God, more prayer more people on their knees
I oppose the research
At my Homeland Germany stem-cell research is restricted and only under firm condition possible. This what Happens here should be discussed in a Ethik commision, because research without ethics is crazy like this.

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Under The Poliscope: Bringing Science Policy Into Focus
Dr. Carrie D. Wolinetz

Carrie D. Wolinetz, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Science Policy, NIH

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