DOI: 10.1177/09636897231183112 ISSN:

A Technological and Regulatory Review on Human–Animal Chimera Research: The Current Landscape of Biology, Law, and Public Opinion

Jennifer L. Brown, Joseph P. Voth, Kennedy Person, Walter C. Low
  • Transplantation
  • Cell Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering

Organ transplantation is a highly utilized treatment for many medical conditions, yet the number of patients waiting for organs far exceeds the number available. The challenges and limitations currently associated with organ transplantation and technological advances in gene editing techniques have led scientists to pursue alternate solutions to the donor organ shortage. Growing human organs in animals and harvesting those organs for transplantation into humans is one such solution. These chimeric animals usually have certain genes necessary for a specific organ’s development inhibited at an early developmental stage, followed by the addition of cultured pluripotent human cells to fill that developmental niche. The result is a chimeric animal that contains human organs which are available for transplant into a patient, circumventing some of the limitations currently involved in donor organ transplantation. In this review, we will discuss both the current scientific and legal landscape of human–animal chimera (HAC) research. We present an overview of the technological advances that allow for the creation of HACs, the patents that currently exist on these methods, as well as current public attitude and understanding that can influence HAC research policy. We complement our scientific and public attitude discussion with a regulatory overview of chimera research at both the national and state level, while also contrasting current U.S. legislation with regulations in other countries. Overall, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the legal and scientific barriers to conducting research on HACs for the generation of transplantable human organs, as well as provide recommendations for the future.

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