Françoise Baylis explains Canada’s regulatory framework for human-nonhuman chimera research and suggests that the proposed changes to the NIH guidelines to permit the funding of such research may have implications for Canadian research.
Last month, the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced proposed changes to its Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research to permit the funding of some research involving the creation of human-nonhuman chimeras. Chimeras are beings with cells from two or more genetically distinct organisms and these organisms may or may not be from the same species. Specifically, the plan is to permit NIH funding of research involving the transfer of human stem cells or tissues into nonhuman embryos. The proposed changes would end the current moratorium on such research.
With this announcement, the public was invited to comment on the proposed changes. In response, and in an effort to encourage formal submissions to the NIH, a group of academics working in animal studies published an engaging commentary that can reasonably be read as a call to action by like-minded individuals. In their view, “it is unreasonable for the NIH to end its moratorium on funding human-nonhuman chimera research when so many serious issues clearly remain unaddressed.” They call for further deliberation to “more fully examine the ethical issues and challenges raised by this research.”
For my part, I want to extend the call to action to this side of the border. I believe that the ethical issues and challenges with human-nonhuman chimera research are as acute in Canada as in the United States.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.