Scientists create human-monkey chimera

Today we are seeing more examples of science fiction rapidly becoming science fact. A team of scientists has created the world's first part-human, part-monkey embryo. The result of this fusion of genetic tissue is called a chimera. It could pave the way for lifesaving medical advances. Bio-scientist Henry Greely explained the importance of this breakthrough for organ transplants. He said: "The long-term goal of this research…is to grow human organs in pigs - kidneys, livers, hearts, etc." He added: "Tens of thousands of people on a transplant list die every year waiting for a transplant."

The groundbreaking research involved injecting human cells into the embryos of macaque monkeys. Scientists studied the development of the embryos for 19 days. Many people are worried about this and believe it is the stuff of horror movies. Professor Greely understood that there are ethical concerns around the creation of chimera. He said: "Every time a person gets an organ transplant, the result is an intra-species chimera – an organism made up of cells from two members of the same species.…When a human gets a pig heart valve, she becomes an inter-species chimera."