An international team of researchers has developed chimeric embryos that are mix of human and monkey cells in a study that has raised eyebrows among other researchers, according to NPR.
"My first question is: Why?" Kirstin Matthews from Rice University's Baker Institute tells NPR. "I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we're just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do."
As they report in the journal Cell, researchers led by Salk Institute for Biological Studies' Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte injected human extended pluripotent stem cells into blastocysts obtained from cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) and cultured them ex vivo for 20 days. This enabled the researchers to study how the cells grew in concert with one another.
Belmonte tells NPR the work could inform efforts to grow human organs in animals for organ transplantation, where human organs are in short supply. "Ultimately, we conduct these studies to understand and improve human health," he adds at BBC News.
Other researchers tell the BBC that they are concerned about the ethical considerations the work sparks and also call for a public discussion and debate.