"It will look like any ordinary mouse, but for America’s scientists a tiny animal threatens to ignite a profound ethical dilemma.
In one of the most controversial scientific projects ever conceived, a group of university researchers in California’s Silicon Valley is preparing to create a mouse whose brain will be composed entirely of human cells.
Researchers at Stanford University have already succeeded in breeding mice with brains that are one per cent human cells.
In the next stage they plan to use stem cells from aborted foetuses to create an animal whose brain cells are 100 per cent human.
Prof Irving Weissman, who heads the university’s Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell Biology, believes that the mice could produce a breakthrough in understanding how stem cells might lead to a cure for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The group is waiting for a key American government-sponsored report, due this month, that will decide just how much science can blur the distinction between man and beast.