Are hybrid embryos an ethical step too far? – The Big Questions

December 31, 2007

Following the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s decision to approve the creation of ‘animal-human’ hybrid embryos, or “cybrids”, the inaugural episode of the BBC’s new ethics show The Big Questions (BBC1, Sunday Sept 9th 2007, 10 am) included a fifteen minute debate on the topic. The programme provides some useful material for discussing the issue.

This initial post outlines the thrust of the discussion.  Interested readers are strongly encouraged to look at the extended commentary Science and ethics of cybrids – reflections on some recent media coverage, which includes not only a fuller account of the exchanges on The Big Questions, but also draws upon a similar discussion on The Guardian’s Science Weekly Podcast of September 10th. The relevance of a number of recent scientific papers on the biology of stem cells is also considered.  You may also like to watch a BBC news report following the announcement – go to their News page ‘Human-animal’ embryo green light and follow the ‘Watch’ link on the right-hand side. Read the rest of this entry »

Recent developments in stem cell research – Podcast

September 15, 2006

This post is associated with a BioethicsBytes podcast on recent developments in stem cell research.  The episode focuses on two scientific papers published at the end of August 2006.  These are:

Klimanskaya I., Chung Y., Becker S., Lu S.J. and Lanza R. (2006) Human embryonic stem cell lines derived from single blastomeres Nature Eprint ahead of publication [PubMed]

Takahashi Y. and Yamanaka S. (2006) Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors Cell 126:663-676 [PubMed]

Reference is also made to an article from the Daily Mail:
MacRae F. (2006) Stem cells created without harming embryos Daily Mail August 23rd 2006 [link]

Stem cells – Centre for Bioethics and Human Dignity

July 27, 2006

As a counterpoint to the Nature podcast on the outcome of the fabricated data by Hwang Woo-Suk, the Centre for Bioethics and Human Dignity offers this alternative view on the implications of the faked work for the stem cell field. “The real lesson of the Korean cloning scandal” is a 10 minute podcast presented by Do No Harm: The Coalition for Research Ethics. A transcript of the podcast can be found at and the audio track can be reached from that page.

Stem cells – Nature podcast special

July 25, 2006

At the end of June 2006, Nature published an hour-long stem cell special (in addition to their weekly podcast).  Although rather advanced for recommending directly to secondary level students, it may serve as a useful primer for you and/or for university students.  Both the audio file and a transcript are available free from , look down the list for the June 28th 2006 edition.