British plan human-cow embryo

The creation of human-bovine embryos has potential to cure degenerative diseases.

As our knowledge pertaining to stem cell research continues to expand, British scientists are submitting plans for the creation of a hybrid embryo – part human, part cow. The stem cells from the embryos would be used for research for treating Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and strokes. This new approach to creating stem cells has become necessary due to the shortage of human cells and, surprisingly, has not encountered great controversy. Given the sensitivity of the issue, expansive dialogue is necessary, but the focus should be on the improvement of medical treatment.

In the creation of the embryo, scientists would take a cow’s egg, remove the nucleus and replace it with the nucleus of a cell taken from an adult human. The hybrid would be overwhelmingly human – 99.9 percent – and would be destroyed after 14 days. Scientists hope to be able to control the development of these cells so they can be used to replace the failing cells that cause degenerative diseases.

Opponents of the embryo believe the development of such a technology will make the eventual birth of a human clone inevitable and greatly overstep the power of man. The profound implications and power that would come with such a creation, opponents say, is one never intended for humans.

The dissent, however, is carelessly overlooking the life-saving practices scientific advancement has offered our society. The reason we have such marvelous treatments and drugs today is precisely because of scientific advances in the past 150 years. Furthermore, just because something cannot be deemed as “natural” does not make it unethical. What about blood transfusions? What about transplants? None of these practices are natural, but all have become essential to medical practice.

Public and scientific discourse over the necessary restrictions and monitoring of the practice is important; however, research on the development of a hybrid embryo that has the potential to help alleviate the pain of millions should not be stopped. It is our duty to explore all avenues with the capacity to help cure public suffering.