Urgent action is needed to prevent the nightmarish 'Planet Of The Apes' science ever turning from fiction to fact, a group of experts has warned.
Their report called for new rules to supervise sensitive research that involves humanising animals.
One area of concern is "Category Three" experiments, which may raise "very strong ethical concerns" and should be banned, and an example given is the creation of primates with distinctly human characteristics, such as speech.
Exactly the same scenario is portrayed in the new movie 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes', in which scientists searching for an Alzheimer's cure create a new breed of apes with human-like intelligence.
The report also acknowledged the "Frankenstein fear" that humanising animals might lead to the creation of "monsters".
Currently, research involving great apes, such as chimpanzees, is outlawed in the UK. But it continues in many other countries including the US, and British scientists are permitted to experiment on monkeys.
"The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human... speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us," the Daily Star urges Professor Thomas Baldwin, a member of the Academy of Medical Sciences working group that produced the report, as saying.