A Preliminary Study Exploring Japanese Public Attitudes Toward the Creation and Utilization of Human-Animal Chimeras: a New Perspective on Animals Containing “Human Material” (ACHM)

Abstract

Ongoing research on making “human-animal chimeras” or “animals containing human material” (ACHM) to solve the shortage of organs available for transplantation has raised many ethical issues regarding the creation and utilization of such constructs, including cultural views regarding the status of those creations. A pilot study was conducted to explore Japanese public attitudes toward human-animal chimeras or ACHM. The February 2012 study consisted of focus group interviews (FGIs) with citizens from the Greater Tokyo Area, aged between 20 and 54. The 24 participants were divided into four groups. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed and participants’ attitudes categorized. Five categories of participant attitudes were identified: (1) resistance to the unnatural, (2) concerns about animal welfare, (3) concerns about controlling human-animal chimeras, (4) concerns about the possible birth of intermediate entities, and (5) resistance to creating and utilizing animals containing my material or my child’s material. Our FGI results showed a broader and greater variety of public concerns than those reported in previous studies. While researchers have tried to establish new methods to avoid creating intermediate entities, our participants expressed concerns about not only intermediate entities but also animals containing their own material or their child’s material. Based upon their responses in the interviews, we are introducing a new ethical concern: “animals containing my material/my child’s material.”

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the citizens who participated in the focus group interviews. We acknowledge the contributions and helpful suggestions of Professor Hyunsoo Hong and members of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo as well as Dr. Shimon Tashiro at the National Cancer Center for helpful suggestions. Additionally, the authors would like to express special gratitude to Professor Hocine Fetni at the University of Pennsylvania and Professor Robert Congleton of Rider University for editing the English paper and their valued advice.

Funding

This study was funded by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development.

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Correspondence to Mayumi Kusunose.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

A Human Subjects’ Protection Statement

The protocol of this research was approved by the institutional review board (IRB) at the Institute of Medical Sciences, The University of Tokyo (approval number: 23-63-0223, date of approval: February 23, 2012).

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Kusunose, M., Inoue, Y., Kamisato, A. et al. A Preliminary Study Exploring Japanese Public Attitudes Toward the Creation and Utilization of Human-Animal Chimeras: a New Perspective on Animals Containing “Human Material” (ACHM). ABR 9, 211–228 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41649-017-0020-1

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Keywords

  • Human-animal chimeras
  • ACHM
  • Japanese public attitudes
  • Focus group interviews
  • Qualitative research