WASHINGTON – Senator Mike Braun, Senator Steve Daines, Senator James Lankford, Senator Joni Ernst, Senator James Inhofe, and Senator John Thune have introduced a bill that would make it a crime to engage in chimera research, or the creation of animal-human hybrid organisms.
Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey introduced the original legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A chimera is an organism that contains cells from two distinct species, such as an animal-human hybrid created in a laboratory setting. In recent years, research programs involving chimeric organisms have become more prevalent.
“Human life is distinct and sacred, and research that creates an animal-human hybrid or transfers a human embryo into an animal womb or vice versa should be completely prohibited and engaging in such unethical experiments should be a crime,” said Senator Braun.
While the National Institute of Health (NIH) does not currently fund this research directly, chimera research programs continue in local universities as exhibited by last year’s creation of a mouse embryo with 4% human cells.
In 2016, the NIH considered lifting their moratorium on experimentation involving human stem cells in animal embryos. Though the NIH has not to date lifted that moratorium, chimeric research has continued to advance in private research settings with alarming results.
In April of this year, researchers at the Salk Institute in California created a human-monkey chimeric embryo by injecting human stem cells into embryos from long-tailed macaques. The human cells survived within the monkey embryo and generated additional cells; the researchers noted that all 132 macaque embryos injected with human cells still contained human cells seven days after fertilization.
Acting on the significant ethical concerns and ramifications such animal-human hybrid research has for the sanctity of human life, the senators introduced this bill which would make it a crime for any person to knowingly 1) create or attempt to create a prohibited human-animal chimera; 2) transfer or attempt to transfer a human embryo into a nonhuman womb; 3) transfer or attempt to transfer a non-human embryo into a human womb; 4) transport or receive for any purpose a prohibited human-animal chimera.
This bill is endorsed by the following groups:
· Family Research Council
· March for Life Action
· National Right to Life
· Senate Pro-Life Caucus
· Susan B. Anthony List
· US Council of Catholic Bishops
· White Coat Waste Project