By Daniel Martin and Simon Caldwell
150 human animal hybrids grown in UK labs: Embryos have been produced secretively for the past three years
Scientists have created more than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos in British laboratories.
The hybrids have been produced secretively over the past three years by researchers looking into possible cures for a wide range of diseases.
The revelation comes just a day after a committee of scientists warned of a nightmare ‘Planet of the Apes’ scenario in which work on human-animal creations goes too far.
Last night a campaigner against the excesses of medical research said he was disgusted that scientists were ‘dabbling in the grotesque’.
Figures seen by the Daily Mail show that 155 ‘admixed’ embryos, containing both human and animal genetic material, have been created since the introduction of the 2008 Human Fertilisation Embryology Act.
This legalised the creation of a variety of hybrids, including an animal egg fertilised by a human sperm; ‘cybrids’, in which a human nucleus is implanted into an animal cell; and ‘chimeras’, in which human cells are mixed with animal embryos.
Scientists say the techniques can be used to develop embryonic stem cells which can be used to treat a range of incurable illnesses.
Three labs in the UK – at King’s College London, Newcastle University and Warwick University – were granted licences to carry out the research after the Act came into force.
The figure was revealed to crossbench peer Lord Alton following a Parliamentary question.
Last night he said: ‘I argued in Parliament against the creation of human- animal hybrids as a matter of principle. None of the scientists who appeared before us could give us any justification in terms of treatment.
‘Ethically it can never be justifiable – it discredits us as a country. It is dabbling in the grotesque.
‘At every stage the justification from scientists has been: if only you allow us to do this, we will find cures for every illness known to mankind. This is emotional blackmail.
‘Of the 80 treatments and cures which have come about from stem cells, all have come from adult stem cells – not embryonic ones.
‘On moral and ethical grounds this fails; and on scientific and medical ones too.’
Earlier this week, a group of leading scientists warned about ‘Planet of the Apes’ experiments. They called for new rules to prevent lab animals being given human attributes, for example by injecting human stem cells into the brains of primates.
Human-animal hybrids are also created in other countries, many of which have little or no regulation.