The AAMC Sept. 2 submitted comments in support of a proposal by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to lift the agency’s moratorium on research developing human-animal chimera.
Specifically, the NIH proposes to support research introducing human stem cells into the developing organisms of other species for purposes of studying human development and disease pathology. The proposal, released with a request for public comment on Aug. 4, would modify the NIH Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research to permit chimeric research, but also clarifies the ban on research involving the breeding of animals where the introduction of human cells may contribute to the germ line. NIH will also establish a steering committee to provide programmatic input on certain human-animal chimera research proposals, creating an additional level of oversight beyond the peer review process.
In its statement in support of the proposal, the AAMC acknowledged “there are clearly moral and ethical dimensions to experimentation involving incorporation of human stem cells into other developing animal organisms and to the applications of such research, although there may not be consensus on particular practices. Any reasonable concerns in pursuing this research should be addressed through an open, transparent, and responsible deliberative process.”
The AAMC expects that an NIH-led process for review and oversight of chimeric research, together with input from the academic medical community, would best help establish standards for responsible conduct of this research, while exploring its potential to advance medicine.