Marlowe's Shade

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scientists Gleefully Vaulting the Species Barrier

Hat Tip: Zaideh

From National Geographic

Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.

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.

Scientists feel that, the more humanlike the animal, the better research model it makes for testing drugs or possibly growing "spare parts," such as livers, to transplant into humans.

Watching how human cells mature and interact in a living creature may also lead to the discoveries of new medical treatments.

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?

There are currently no U.S. federal laws that address these issues.

The article is over a year old but no less shocking a year later. Zaideh's commentary was spot on:

Welcome to the Island of Dr Moreau

Is there any discipline more plagued by hubris than science?
If something can be done, it will be done and damn the ethics or morality!
No one can convince me that, somewhere in the world, in a hidden lab, some miserable, semi-human, hybrid creature is being created or, even, being observed.

Just when you think modern science can't devalue human life any more...
papijoe 2:20 PM