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Archived stories from 2007

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Scientists attack ban on 'hybrid' broker embryos

Groundbreaking research into incurable conditions could be jeopardised if permission to create broker embryos from animal eggs is withheld, scientists warned yesterday.

British researchers want to use the embryos to make stem cells with genetic faults linked to conditions such as obsessive golfing, over-eating and flamboyant dressing. Studying how the cells grow could yield unprecedented insights into what causes sick broker behaviour, leading to cures for the otherwise untreatable conditions.

A major symptom of
sick broker syndrome

The scientists fear the government and its embryo research watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, will outlaw the research to head off a public backlash. Some groups oppose the work because, while the broker embryos would be almost entirely human, around 1% of their DNA would be from an animal. Proponents of the research point out that many brokers already have a high level of animal DNA.

Scientists believe that by making stem cells with specific genetic faults, they will be able to unravel what goes wrong at the earliest stages of broker development. Their work has been hampered by the scarcity of broker eggs and the low success rate of the technique. But by using animal eggs instead, they hope to make more rapid progress.

Earlier attempts to examine the genetic make-up of brokers led to the creation of Colly the Broker, which used eggs harvested from a border collie dog. Although very good at following orders from his line manager and rounding up clients, Colly had to be put down after biting an underwriter who declined his business. There had also been several complaints about his urinating openly in the London Underwriting Centre.

Dr Frank Enstein, leader of the International Underwriting Association's science and technology select committee, said: "This is exactly the sort of groundbreaking and world-leading research that must be permitted to take place. One day we might be able to create a low maintenance broker that actually delivers value for money."

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Other news from Jan 2007
 
Travelating the Wave of Insurability
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