Research with human–animal chimera raises a number of ethical concerns, especially when neural stem cells are transplanted into the brains of non-human primates (NHPs). Besides animal welfare concerns and ethical issues associated with the use of embryonic stem cells, the research is also regarded as controversial from the standpoint of NHPs developing cognitive or behavioural capabilities that are regarded as “unique” to humans. However, scientists are urging to test new therapeutic approaches for neurological diseases in primate models as they better mimic human physiology than all current animal models. As a response, various countries have issued reports on the topic. Our paper summarizes the ethical issues raised by research with human–animal brain chimeras and compares the relevant regulatory instruments and different recommendations issued in national reports from three important European research nations: Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. We assess and discuss the focus and priorities set by the different reports, review various reasons for and perspectives on the importance of the brain in chimera research, and identify critical points in the reports that warrant further specification and debate.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Issues, ethics and legal aspects
- Health(social science)
- Health Policy
- Management of Technology and Innovation