"In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls. But with no federal guidelines in place, an awkward question hovers above the work: How human must a chimera be before more stringent research rules should kick in?"
-- Washington Post article on human/animal hybrids, 11/20/04
front page of the Washington Post several years ago had the below, incredibly
revealing story on human/animal hybrids. The respected British newspaper The Guardian in 2008 posted a key story on the first human/animal hybrid embryos. Yet another revealing article on these bizarre hybrids appeared in the nature magazine National Geographic. Scientists are experimenting with
creating hybrids between humans and animals called "chimeras"
without clear ethical guidelines. And remember that military and intelligence
services are generally at least 10 years in advance of any research being
done in public.
In 2003, I attended a lecture by Dr. Michael Nelson, a professor at Georgetown University and former science advisor to Al Gore. He described a visit deep into the bowels of the most cutting edge secret government research projects. In disturbing experiments there, he saw living matter being combined with inanimate objects, so that these objects were half-alive with DNA giving them a form of pseudo-life. He claimed to experience nightmares for weeks after seeing this highly troubling research. Yet no guidelines have been developed to monitor such activities, especially when they are conducted in secret by the government.
With proper rules and guidelines in place, science gives
us many wonderful technological advances. But without these guidelines,
we are treading in very dangerous territory. When profit and greed are the
main drivers behind science, who do you think will benefit from the development of these strange chimeras? Please help
to spread the word and call for responsible scientific exploration based
on what is best for all people and all species. Contact your political and media representatives by clicking here. Thanks for caring and have
a good day.
With best wishes,
Fred Burks for PEERS and WantToKnow.info
Of Mice, Men and In-Between
Scientists Debate Blending Of Human, Animal Forms
Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 20, 2004; Page A01
In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in
In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are
In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells
firing inside their skulls.
are not outcasts from "The Island of Dr. Moreau," the 1896 novel by
H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal
and part human. They are real creations of real scientists, stretching the
boundaries of stem cell research.
call these hybrid animals chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a
lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail. They are the products of
experiments in which human stem cells were added to developing animal
are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells
and organs mature and interact -- not in the cold isolation of laboratory
dishes but inside the bodies of living creatures. Some are already revealing
deep secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward new medical
But with no federal guidelines in place, an awkward
question hovers above the work: How human must a chimera be before more
stringent research rules should kick in?
National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government, has been
studying the issue and hopes to make recommendations by February. Yet the
range of opinions it has received so far suggests that reaching consensus may
one recent meeting, scientists disagreed on such basic issues as whether it
would be unethical for a human embryo to begin its development in an animal's
womb, and whether a mouse would be better or worse off with a brain made of
is an area where we really need to come to a reasonable consensus," said
James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health's Stem Cell Task
Force. "We need to establish some kind of guidelines as to what the
scientific community ought to do and ought not to do."
Twins and Moms
Chimeras (ki-MER-ahs) -- meaning mixtures of two or more individuals in a
single body -- are not inherently unnatural. Most twins carry at least a few
cells from the sibling with whom they shared a womb, and most mothers carry
in their blood at least a few cells from each child they have born.
of organ transplants are also chimeras, as are the many people whose
defective heart valves have been replaced with those from pigs or cows. And
scientists for years have added human genes to bacteria and even to farm
animals -- feats of genetic engineering that allow those critters to make
human proteins such as insulin for use as medicines.
"Chimeras are not as strange and alien as at first
blush they seem," said Henry Greely, a law professor and ethicist at Stanford
University who has reviewed proposals to create human-mouse chimeras there.
chimerism becomes a more sensitive topic when it involves growing entire
human organs inside animals. And it becomes especially sensitive when it
deals in brain cells, the building blocks of the organ credited with making
experiments like those, Greely told the academy last month, "there is a
nontrivial risk of conferring some significant aspects of humanity" on
and his colleagues did not conclude that such experiments should never be
done. Indeed, he and many other philosophers have been wrestling with the
question of why so many people believe it is wrong to breach the species
the repugnance reflect an understanding of an important natural law? Or is it
just another cultural bias, like the once widespread rejection of interracial
turn to the Bible's repeated invocation that animals should multiply
"after their kind" as evidence that such experiments are wrong.
Others, however, have concluded that the core problem is not necessarily the
creation of chimeras but rather the way they are likely to be treated.
Imagine, said Robert Streiffer, a professor of philosophy
and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, a human-chimpanzee chimera
endowed with speech and an enhanced potential to learn -- what some have
called a "humanzee."
a knee-jerk reaction that enhancing the moral status of an animal is
bad," Streiffer said. "But if you did it, and you gave it the
protections it deserves, how could the animal complain?"
said Harvard political philosopher Michael J. Sandel, speaking last fall at a
meeting of the President's Council on Bioethics, such protections are
are we would make them perform menial jobs or dangerous jobs," Sandel
said. "That would be an objection."
The potential power of chimeras as research tools became clear about a decade
ago in a series of dramatic experiments by Evan Balaban, now at McGill
University in Montreal. Balaban took small sections of brain from developing
quails and transplanted them into the developing brains of chickens.
resulting chickens exhibited vocal trills and head bobs unique to quails,
proving that the transplanted parts of the brain contained the neural
circuitry for quail calls. It also offered astonishing proof that complex
behaviors could be transferred across species.
one has proposed similar experiments between, say, humans and apes. But the
discovery of human embryonic stem cells in 1998 allowed researchers to
envision related experiments that might reveal a lot about how embryos grow.
cells, found in 5-day-old human embryos, multiply prolifically and -- unlike
adult cells -- have the potential to turn into any of the body's 200 or so
hope to cultivate them in laboratory dishes and grow replacement tissues for
patients. But with those applications years away, the cells are gaining in
popularity for basic research.
most radical experiment, still not conducted, would be to inject human stem
cells into an animal embryo and then transfer that chimeric embryo into an
animal's womb. Scientists suspect the proliferating human cells would spread
throughout the animal embryo as it matured into a fetus and integrate
themselves into every organ.
"humanized" animals could have countless uses. They would almost
certainly provide better ways to test a new drug's efficacy and toxicity, for
example, than the ordinary mice typically used today.
few scientists are eager to do that experiment. The risk, they say, is that
some human cells will find their way to the developing testes or ovaries,
where they might grow into human sperm and eggs. If two such chimeras -- say,
mice -- were to mate, a human embryo might form, trapped in a mouse.
everyone agrees that this would be a terrible result.
would be so dreadful?" asked Ann McLaren, a renowned developmental
biologist at the University of Cambridge in England. After all, she said, no
human embryo could develop successfully in a mouse womb. It would simply die,
she told the academy. No harm done.
others disagree -- if only out of fear of a public backlash.
you'd get a negative response from people to have a human embryo trying to
grow in the wrong place," said Cynthia B. Cohen, a senior research
fellow at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics and a member of
Canada's Stem Cell Oversight Committee, which supported a ban on such experiments
But what about experiments in which scientists add human stem cells not to an
animal embryo but to an animal fetus, which has already made its eggs and
sperm? Then the only question is how human a creature one dares to make.
one ongoing set of experiments, Jeffrey L. Platt at the Mayo Clinic in
Rochester, Minn., has created human-pig chimeras by adding
human-blood-forming stem cells to pig fetuses. The resulting pigs have both
pig and human blood in their vessels. And it's not just pig blood
cells being swept along with human blood cells; some of the cells themselves
have merged, creating hybrids.
It is important to have learned that human and pig cells
can fuse, Platt said, because he and others have been considering transplanting
modified pig organs into people and have been wondering if that might pose a
risk of pig viruses getting into patient's cells. Now scientists know the
risk is real, he said, because the viruses may gain access when the two cells
other experiments led by Esmail Zanjani, chairman of animal biotechnology at
the University of Nevada at Reno, scientists have been adding human stem
cells to sheep fetuses. The team now has sheep whose livers are up to 80
percent human -- and make all the compounds human livers make.
goal is to make the humanized livers available to people who need
transplants. The sheep portions will be rejected by the immune system, he
predicted, while the human part will take root.
don't see why anyone would raise objections to our work," Zanjani said
in an interview.
Perhaps the most ambitious efforts to make use of chimeras come from Irving
Weissman, director of Stanford University's Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell
Biology and Medicine. Weissman helped make the first mouse with a
nearly complete human immune system -- an animal that has proved
invaluable for tests of new drugs against the AIDS virus, which does not
infect conventional mice.
More recently his team injected human neural stem cells
into mouse fetuses, creating mice whose brains are about 1 percent human. By dissecting the mice at various
stages, the researchers were able to see how the added brain cells moved
about as they multiplied and made connections with mouse cells.
he said, they have learned things they "never would have learned had
there been a bioethical ban."
he wants to add human brain stem cells that have the defects that cause
Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and other brain ailments -- and study
how those cells make connections.
suspect that these diseases, though they manifest themselves in adulthood,
begin when something goes wrong early in development. If those errors can be
found, researchers would have a much better chance of designing useful drugs,
Weissman said. And those drugs could be tested in the chimeras in ways not
possible in patients.
Now Weissman says he is thinking about making chimeric
mice whose brains are 100 percent human. He proposes keeping tabs on the
mice as they develop. If the brains look as if they are taking on a
distinctly human architecture -- a development that could hint at a glimmer
of humanness -- they could be killed, he said. If they look as if they are
organizing themselves in a mouse brain architecture, they could be used for
far this is just a "thought experiment," Weissman said, but he
asked the university's ethics group for an opinion anyway.
"Everyone said the mice would be useful," he
said. "But no one was sure if it should be done."
Note: The original article on human/animal hybrids can be found on the Washington Post website at this link. For more important information on how money and greed may be endangering your health, click here.
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