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The resulting hermaphrodite embryo was not allowed to develop beyond six days.
But the fact that the experiment went ahead at all provoked an angry reaction from pro-life campaigners and strong disapproval from fellow experts.
Norbert Gleicher, who works for a private fertility clinic group in the United States, presented the research at an embryology meeting in Spain.
The purpose of the experiment was to discover whether cells from a healthy human embryo could be used to treat a defective one.
Dr Gleicher's team, from the Centres for Human Reproduction in New York and Chicago, transplanted cells from a developing male embryo into a three-day-old female embryo.
The cells integrated themselves to produce a ``chimaera'' a hybrid embryo made up of components, or blastomeres from both sources.
Creating an embryo with male and female parts made it possible to identify the amalgamated cells by checking their chromosomes.
In his presentation at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology meeting in Madrid, Dr Gleicher said it might be possible to use the technique to treat genetic diseases at the embryo stage.
``Since the treatment of single gene diseases does not require successful treatment of all cells, blastomere transplantation could be explored as a possible treatment option,'' he said.
Because the donor cells also tended to be distributed differently in abnormally developing embryos, it meant the method could also be used to spot genetic problems. But other experts at the meeting claimed the research was flawed and pointless. Francoise Shenfield, co-ordinator of the ESHRE Special Interest Group on Ethics and Law, said: ``The aim is to create a chimaera to correct a defect, but it seems a little illogical because nobody has any idea how much of the embryo would be normal. This research happened in America but I can't imagine it being accepted anywhere in Europe, I'm happy to say.''
She said there was a lot of discussion among experts vetting submissions to the meeting about whether or not Dr Gleicher's research abstract should be accepted.
In the end, the presentation was allowed to go ahead so that it could be debated in the open.
Patrick Cusworth, spokesman for the pro-life charity, Life, said: ``The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology has hardly covered itself with glory in the past few days, considering that only yesterday proposals were heard to use eggs from aborted babies for infertility treatments. We asked the question yesterday as to whether researchers could sink any lower in their lack of respect for human life here is our answer: the creation of a `shemale'. This report that a human embryo a new living and unique individual has been created to such Mengelian standards is shocking. These scientists claim that their research is for the good of humankind, yet how is the creation and destruction of such a freak of nature intended to benefit anyone? Such a callous abuse of early human life, where a human embryo is deliberately created, abused and destroyed with such contempt, must surely send shivers down the spines of the general public.''
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