The American Academy of Pediatrics has become aware of a proposal to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that "NIH [National Institutes of Health] prohibit any experimentation involving the transfer of a genetic trait from one mammalian species into the germ cell of another, unrelated mammalian species." An advisory committee rejected this proposal on Oct 29, 1984.
For the record and in any event of further attempts to impose such a prohibition, the Academy, on recommendation of its Council on Research, has the following statement:
Without specific study of the referenced experiments by Dr Ralph Brinster of the University of Pennsylvania, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes that such a blanket prohibition would be scientifically dangerous and detrimental to research efforts into understanding human disease, including cancer, and potentially to the development of new therapies.
There is no true scientific basis for the proposed prohibition. The fact is that a large number of molecular structures, including complex ones, are held in common among the mammalian species. In reality, the species are much more similar than they are different. The species borders that the proposer talks about are a continuum and a blend rather than a sharp demarcation (as is evidenced in cell culture by the ability to fuse cells from many species).
The prohibition would militate against certain possibilities for research and therapy related to inborn errors of metabolism. A gene for the production of an enzyme in one species often makes an enzyme that would produce the same kind of product found in the human.
- Copyright © 1985 by the American Academy of Pediatrics