Stem Cell Research (Oct 2017)

The contribution of human/non-human animal chimeras to stem cell research

  • Sonya Levine,
  • Laura Grabel

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 24, no. C
pp. 128 – 134


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Chimeric animals are made up of cells from two separate zygotes. Human/non-human animal chimeras have been used for a number of research purposes, including human disease modeling. Pluripotent stem cell (PSC) research has relied upon the chimera approach to examine the developmental potential of stem cells, to determine the efficacy of cell replacement therapies, and to establish a means of producing human organs. Based on ethical issues, this work has faced pushback from various sources including funding agencies. We discuss here the essential role these studies have played, from gaining a better understanding of human biology to providing a stepping stone to human disease treatments. We also consider the major ethical issues, as well as the current status of support for this work in the United States.