LONDON – Britain's fertility regulator gave the green light Thursday for the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for research.
In a controversial move, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved applications from two universities – King's College London and Newcastle University – to create "cytoplasmic" embryos by inserting human cells into animal eggs.
Opponents condemned the decision as a "disastrous setback for human dignity," according to Agence-France Presse.
Researchers want to produce hybrids that are 99.9 percent human and 0.1 percent animal.
The approved research involves transferring nuclei containing DNA from human cells to animal eggs that have had nearly all their genetic information removed. The resulting embryos are effectively human, according to AFP, with a small animal component.
Then, stem cells, which can grow into different kinds of tissue, are formed.
Scientists argue the research could pave the way for therapies for diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as reported by AFP.
Earlier this week, hundreds of Christians rallied outside Parliament to express their opposition to the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill on the basis that hybrid embryos go against God's intention behind His creation.
On Tuesday, the House of Lords voted against a ban on the creation of animal-human hybrids.
Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern For Our Nation (CCFON) expressed disappointment after Tuesday's vote, stating, "This legislation, which holds many other worrying provisions besides hybrids, is attacking the very core of who we are as a society, what we value as human beings, how we view the unique dignity of humanity and the lengths we are prepared to go to in perverting nature for our own selfish and often misguided desires.
"If the nation is still capable of being shocked, then this bill – if its contents were more widely known and understood – would certainly do just that."
Williams called on the church to speak up on the risks that the bill's provisions pose.
"It is the church's responsibility to speak up for God's intention for His creation, and in the absence of a wider understanding of the Bill it falls to the church to speak on behalf the nation, to act as lookouts in the watch tower warning of the approaching dangers," she said.
Christian Post correspondent Jennifer Gold in London contributed to this report.