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Current Affairs

Human cells grown in monkey embryo

Date: 21 April 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers of US have grown human cells in embryos of monkeys for the first time. This has however ignited the ethical debate.

 

Background

Modern biotechnology offers opportunity for experimenting with fields such as human cloning and genetic modification that has ethical repercussions.

 

Details

  • Researchers created a chimeric tool by developing human cells into the embryos of macaque monkeys.

  • Chimeras are type of organisms that are grown from cells of two distinct species. In this case, monkeys and humans were involved.

  • Even though the aim of the study was to study growth and possibilities, the hybrid embryo can possibly grow into a new kind of an animal.

  • A similar study in 2017 had tried to integrate human cells in pig tissues. This was because pigs have the same organ size, physiology and anatomy as humans.

  • The technique could be used to grow human organs in pigs, which later could be harvested for human organ transplantation.

  • After the failure of the experiment, a species similar to humans were to be picked. Macaque monkeys were chosen as they were closer to humans.

 

Benefits of research

  • The research will help in research and medicine by studying the early human development, disease onset and progression and ageing.

  • The research will also help in evaluation of drug and address the critical need for organ transplantation.

  • There will also be an opportunity for scientists to study onset and effects of genetic disease in humans by mimicking the process in monkey embryos.

 

Concerns

  • Ethical questions have started after scientists expressed chances of exploitation of animals to meet human needs.

  • The study may evolve into a commercial business of growing organs that can be sold to wealthy humans.

  • Tampering with genetic code of humans is considered unethical and criminal practice that can attract serious punishment.