Letter: Genetic research

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As a geneticist involved in medical research, I was appalled to read your story "Scientists create a cow-human hybrid" (report, 13 November).

Firstly, a hybrid was not created as the embryo contained only human DNA (a hybrid must contain DNA from at least two species). Secondly, and most importantly, the aim of the research conducted by Dr Cibelli was misinterpreted; creating a cloned human being has never been on the cards. The aim of research in this area is to be able to produce human tissue grown from the patient's own cells. For instance, DNA from burns victims could be used to grow skin cells for grafts that would not be rejected.

The public must be informed of advances in genetic research - we have a potentially huge ethical dilemma on our hands. However, creating the image that medical research is secretly producing a genetic Frankenstein monster is misleading and wrong. In the most part, medical research is exactly that - advances in medicine which are hopefully extremely beneficial.

To stop genetics snowballing out of control, it is essential to have a well-informed public; a mis-informed public can do nothing.