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The policy change proposes to end a one-year moratorium on funding this kind of research.

The NIH expects these chimeric animals to solve a huge problem facing health sciences research. For decades, evidence has been mounting that nonhuman animals are poor models for many human pathologies. By aiming to manipulate nonhuman animals to develop human tissues, organs, and other traits, the NIH expects that these chimeras will ultimately serve as improved models.

But this research brings its own challenges. The chimera test subjects need to be humanized enough to serve as effective models for human health research – that is, as more accurate, predictive, and thus effective tools for developing medical interventions in humans. However, if the chimeras are too similar to humans (what we refer to as “substantively humanized”), they raise a host of ethical concerns for society at large.

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Image: By I, Sailko, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4560382

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The Hastings Center

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