Linacre Centre Submission to the Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into Government Proposals for the Regulation of Hybrids and Chimeras (2007)
Linacre Centre Submission to the Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into Government Proposals for the Regulation of Hybrid and Chimera Embryos
1. The Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics is a bioethics research institute under the trusteeship of the Catholic Trust for England and Wales. We publish material, run conferences and provide speakers on a range of bioethical issues, and also offer advice and information to individual scientists, health professionals and patients. This Submission has been prepared on behalf of the Centre by Dr Helen Watt, the Director of the Centre, and Anthony McCarthy, its Research Fellow.
the production of the embryonic cell-line from which the new embryo is created. To be deliberately formed from the bodily remains of another human embryo is, again, an offense to the dignity of the embryo created, as well as that of the earlier embryo in whose death the scientist is already complicit.
11. It should be remembered that animal-human hybrids and chimeras are in any case likely to be of limited scientific value, due to the abnormal nature of their cells. They are unlikely to provide any treatments for patients, in view of the medical risks which they carry: risks not limited to the transmission of animal viruses to humans. It should be remembered that mitochondrial problems are a key factor in many neurodegenerative diseases; there would also be particular risks if hybrid cells were used to treat heart or liver complaints, for which cloning has been proposed as a solution.6 Rather than pursue such a clinical dead-end, there should be further investment in adult stem cell research, which is morally acceptable to the vast majority of patients and clinicians worldwide, and has already produced treatments for 72 conditions to date.7
4 The nucleus provider is likely to feel a sense of ownership, not parental responsibility, over the cloned embryo, who may be perceived as a mere product of his or her cells.
7 For constantly-updated information on existing adult stem cell treatments, see www.stemcellresaerch.org