Human-monkey embryo creation is worrying people: ‘This is how Planet of the Apes begins’

Jacob Stolworthy
·2-min read
 (20th Cenury Fox)
(20th Cenury Fox)

People are convinced that the events of Planet of the Apes are about to play out following news that scientists have successfully created the first part-human, part-monkey cell.

A team at the Salk Institute in California produced the chimeras – an organism whose cells come from two or more individuals – by injecting human stem cells into macaque embryos.

The news has sparked an ethics row, but Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmont has argued that his team’s work “could be really very useful for advancing biomedical research, not just at the very earliest stage of life, but also the latest stage of life”.

Following reports, the world has reacted in exactly the way you’d expect – by jokingly expressing concern that the events of Planet of the Apes, in which intelligent apes clash with humans in an attempt to take over Earth, could come to fruition.

“Almost a good idea for a movie....could call it Planet of the Apes,” one person quipped, with another adding: “I literally turned to my partner and said, “Oh, look, it’s the beginning of Planet of the Apes!”

Someone else added: “Well, the pandemic really had me thinking we were headed for The Hunger Games timeline, but seems like it’ll be Planet of the Apes instead?”

In response to the fact that people were questioning the ethics of the study, one person added: “Specifically, the ones who have seen ANY MOVIE EVER, what is WRONG with you people.”

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Some ethicists in the UK have raised concerns about the development, saying this type of work “poses significant ethical and legal challenges” and “opens Pandora’s box to human-nonhuman chimeras”.

Prof Izpisua Belmonte, though, maintains that his work has met the current ethical and legal guidelines. He said: “As important for health and research as we think these results are, the way we conducted this work, with utmost attention to ethical considerations and by co-ordinating closely with regulatory agencies, is equally important.”

The most recent entry into the Planet of the Apes franchise, War for the Planet of the Apes, was released in 2017.

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