Caution urged in human-ape brain stem test

July 15, 2005

Researchers were cautioned Friday about brain disease experiments that would involve putting human brain stem cells into monkeys or apes.

If stem cells show promise in treating diseases of the human brain, any potential therapy would need to be tested in animals. But putting human brain stem cells into monkeys or apes could raise awkward ethical dilemmas, like the possibility of generating a humanlike mind in a chimpanzee's body, The New York Times said.

No such experiments are planned but, in a paper in the journal Science, a group of scientists and ethicists is advising researchers to exercise care with such experiments, particularly if they should lead to a large fraction of a chimpanzee's brain's being composed of human neurons.

If stem-cell therapies for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease were to be developed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might require tests in monkeys or apes before permitting clinical trials.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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