In an assault on the dignity of human life, the Senate failed to prevent the continued creation of human-animal hybrids, called “chimeras,” created for research purposes.
Sens. Mike Braun, Steve Daines, Joni Ernst, Jim Inhofe, and James Lankford proposed an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act that would have prohibited the use or development of human-animal chimera upon pain of criminal charges. The sole exceptions granted would have allowed research to assist with organ transplants. The bill lost 49-48.
At present, human-animal chimera research is still prohibited from receiving federal funding, but transpires with limited regulation in university and private labs.
Thirty-two senators and members of congress, led by Braun and Rep. Chris Smith, wrote a letter to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, expressing their “concern” about human-animal chimera research on both an ethical and pragmatic level. They also posed several questions about how the NIH plans to move forward with regulating such a morally dubious subject.
New guidelines were released by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) on how to grow chimeras. Since the National Institute of Health has yet to establish its own guidelines, it is increasingly likely the NIH will follow the international organization’s lead on these.
The ISSCR has specific rules of how chimeric cells can be developed, based predominately on where and for what purpose human stem cells are being injected into nonhuman embryos, grown, and experimented on with no intention of developing human life.
“Breeding human-animal chimeras where there may be human germ cells” and “transferring human-animal chimeric embryo(s) to a human or ape uterus” are “not allowed,” as such research “lacks compelling scientific rationale or is ethically concerning.”
However, “in vitro culture of chimeric embryos (human cells into non- human embryos),” is not only permitted, but allowed with limited supervision, as such research is “reportable, but not typically reviewed by a specialized oversight process.” The specific qualifier given by the ISSCR is that there must be “no intent to generate a human embryo or fetus” with the human cells.
Several organizations support banning this practice in order to preserve the sanctity of human life, including March for Life Action, Family Research Council, Concerned Women of America, National Right to Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, White Coat Waste, and the Charlotte-Lozier Institute. PETA has also spoken out against research on chimera, equating it to other forms of animal testing.