Human-Animal Chimeras Now Gestating on U.S. Research Farms


The research involving stem-cells extracted from humans and injected into an animals embryo has been met with much scrutiny by the National Institute of Health, the foremost medical research center. Despite the ban on funding towards this particular medical advanced, several research facilities across the country are still conducting experiments. The MIT Technology Review had this to say:

The experiments rely on a cutting-edge fusion of technologies, including recent breakthroughs in stem-cell biology and gene-editing techniques. By modifying genes, scientists can now easily change the DNA in pig or sheep embryos so that they are genetically incapable of forming a specific tissue. Then, by adding stem cells from a person, they hope the human cells will take over the job of forming the missing organ, which could then be harvested from the animal for use in a transplant operation…

The worry is that the animals might turn out to be a little too human for comfort, say ending up with human reproductive cells, patches of people hair, or just higher intelligence. “We are not near the island of Dr. Moreau, but science moves fast,” NIH ethicist David Resnik said during the agency’s November meeting. “The specter of an intelligent mouse stuck in a laboratory somewhere screaming ‘I want to get out’ would be very troubling to people.”

The chance of an animal gaining human consciousness is probably slim; their brains are just too different, and much smaller. Even so, as a precaution, researchers working with farm-animal chimeras haven’t yet permitted any to be born, but instead are collecting fetuses in order to gather preliminary information about how great the contribution of human cells is to the animals’ bodies…The new line of research goes further because it involves placing human cells into an animal embryo at the very earliest stage, when it is a sphere of just a dozen cells in a laboratory dish. This process, called “embryo complementation,” is significant because the human cells can multiply, specialize, and potentially contribute to any part of the animal’s body as it develops…

“We don’t want to grow them to stages we don’t need to, since that would be more controversial,” says Ross. “My view is that the contribution of human cells is going to be minimal, maybe 3 percent, maybe 5 percent. But what if they contributed to 100 percent of the brain? What if the embryo that develops is mostly human? It’s something that we don’t expect, but no one has done this experiment, so we can’t rule it out.”

Shouldn't the government be involved? It seems these types of experiments raise the question of cloning all over again. Where will this research end? When animals begin to look and act more like humans? Whether or not this proves to be life-saving with liable transplants, does that negate the damage and genetic enhancements we are injecting into farm animals?  If See the full article below.

 



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