Scientist are trying to create an animal and human embryo in the hopes of using the organs to help cure diseases. This sounds like something out of a movie and don’t even seem possible but time and money is being spent to create a “chimera”. What are your thoughts?
Scientists are working on an embryo that’s part human, part animal as they seek a breakthrough in treating a wide range of diseases.
It’s hoped that the organisms, known as chimeras, may be suitable for testing treatments for human diseases on better animal models.
But the ethical questions of developing an inter-species creation has caused some pause in the search for scientific discovery.
In a world where there has been mention of farm animals with human organs to be be transplanted into terminally ill patients, some scientists are wary.
“You’re getting into unsettling ground that I think is damaging to our sense of humanity,” Stuart Newman, a professor at New York Medical College, told NPR .
The National Institutes of Health in America has called a halt to funding research while the ethical issues which chimeras raise are explored.
But scientists who are keen to work on such projects have found alternative funds in the hope that advances may persuade the NIH to list the ban.
“We’re not trying to make a chimera just because we want to see some kind of monstrous creature,” says Pablo Ross, biologist at the University of California, Davis.
“We’re doing this for a biomedical purpose.”
Mr Ross, working with Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte from the Salk Intitute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California and Hiromitsu Nakauchi at Stanford University, is currently trying to create a pancreas which may help a diabetic patient with treatment from a pig embryo involving gene-editing techniques.
The process requires the chimera embryos to be surgically implanted into the wombs of adult pigs.
Mr Ross then waits 28 days – when embryos would have started to form organs – and removes the embryo to dissect.
Mr Newman says this sort of experiment is troubling as science could eventually create “pigs with partly human brains” who had something like a human consciousness.
Critics also worry about the gestation of a part-human, part-pig creature may result from future experiments.
But Mr Ross says that they can safeguard against accidental chimera mating, allowing the research to give humans real benefits.