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Should We Change “Chimeric” Human-Animal Research?

February 8, 2023 @ 2:00 pm 3:00 pm EST

SPECIAL REPORT: Creating Chimeric Animals: Seeking Clarity on Ethics and Oversight

Crossing species boundaries by inserting human cells into (nonhuman) animals for research purposes promises to yield enormous benefits, including better models of human disease and ultimately sources of tissues and organs suitable for transplantation into humans.

Yet there are ethical questions about this type of research, ranging from whether the moral status of nonhuman animals is altered by the insertion of human stem cells, to whether cell donors should be asked for explicit consent to chimeric research, to whether the nonhuman animals involved are subjected to novel forms of harm. Currently, many such studies are subject to additional prohibitions and oversight, although some people content this type of research should not be done at all.

Josephine Johnston of The Hastings Center and Insoo Hyun of the Boston Museum of Science, co-editors, along with others, of a new report on chimeric research, discussed the goals and ethics of this work.