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First Monkey–Human Embryos Reignite Debate Over Hybrid Animals

Researchers hope that some human–animal hybrids — known as chimaeras — could provide better models in which to test drugs, and be used to grow human organs for transplants. Members of this research team were the first to show in 2019 that they could grow monkey embryos in a dish for up to 20 days after fertilization. In 2017, they reported a series of other hybrids: pig embryos grown with human cells, cow embryos grown with human cells, and rat embryos grown with mouse cells. But the latest work has divided developmental biologists. Some question the need for such experiments using closely related primates — these animals are not likely to be used as model animals in the way that mice and rodents are. Non-human primates are protected by stricter research ethics rules than are rodents, and they worry such work is likely to stoke public opposition.

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