Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.The idea is that, by tinkering with the animals, you can create a line that is closer to human, and, thus, facilitate experimentation that benefits humans, such as drug testing or growing spare parts.
Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. The embryos were reportedly the first human-animal chimeras successfully created. They were allowed to develop for several days in a laboratory dish before the scientists destroyed the embryos to harvest their stem cells.
In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies.
And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.
But creating human-animal chimeras—named after a monster in Greek mythology that had a lion's head, goat's body, and serpent's tail—has raised troubling questions: What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have?NO FEDERAL LAWS? This issue is one that is equally important to the stem cell issue - today, I'm contacting my legislators, and urging them to put some roadblocks in place to stop these kinds of actions. Feel free to do the same.
There are currently no U.S. federal laws that address these issues.
The National Academy of Sciences, which advises the U.S. government, has been studying the issue. In March it plans to present voluntary ethical guidelines for researchers.
What's caused the uproar is the mixing of human stem cells with embryonic animals to create new species.Well, I should think so.
But, no, these guys aren't concerned for the reason you might think.
Biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin is opposed to crossing species boundaries, because he believes animals have the right to exist without being tampered with or crossed with another species.I like that - never mind the HUMAN lives that will be forever effected by the action, think of the ANIMALS. We'll do a lot better vis-a-vis animal rights people when they finally concede that man is an animal, and deserving of their protection.
Think it can't happen here?
Irv Weissman, director of Stanford University's Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine in California, is against a ban in the United States.Don't you just love it when they work that magic word "Parkinson's" in? All things will be justified when people realize that cute celebrities might benefit.
"Anybody who puts their own moral guidance in the way of this biomedical science, where they want to impose their will—not just be part of an argument—if that leads to a ban or moratorium. … they are stopping research that would save human lives," he said.
Mice With Human Brains
Weissman has already created mice with brains that are about one percent human.
Later this year he may conduct another experiment where the mice have 100 percent human brains. This would be done, he said, by injecting human neurons into the brains of embryonic mice.
Before being born, the mice would be killed and dissected to see if the architecture of a human brain had formed. If it did, he'd look for traces of human cognitive behavior.
Weissman said he's not a mad scientist trying to create a human in an animal body. He hopes the experiment leads to a better understanding of how the brain works, which would be useful in treating diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.
If you haven't already, read "Chromosome 6" by Robin Cook. It deals with this very issue, and in a way that addresses the ethical issues involved. It's also a very good piece of science fiction.
Tags = Science and Technology