Hot off the presses (otherwise known as a Google News Search) comes breaking news that human-animal hybridization leads to controversy. Essentially, we have concerned bioethicists expressing their disapproval over combining human cells with living animals:
The mixing of humans and animals in the name of medicine has been going on for decades. People are walking around with pig valves in their hearts and scientists have routinely injected human cells into lab mice to mimic diseases.
But the research is becoming increasingly exotic as scientists work with the brains of mice, monkeys and other mammals and begin fiddling with the hot-button issue of cloning. Harvard University researchers are attempting to clone human embryonic cells in rabbit eggs.
During his State of the Union speech in January, President George W. Bush called for a ban on “human cloning in all its forms” and “human-animal hybrids,” labeling it one of the “most egregious abuses of medical research.”
Stanford University bioethicist Christopher Scott said “the stuff that raises the most ethical concerns” are the experiments that implant human cells into animals’ brains. So far, Scott and others know of no researcher that has come close to putting enough human cells into animal brains to confer any signs of humanity, such as emotion.
The report endorsed research that co-mingles human and animal tissue as vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people. But the report warned that the “idea that human neuronal cells might participate in ‘higher order’ brain functions in a nonhuman animal, however unlikely that may be, raises concerns that need to be considered.”
Apparently, these people believe that somehow the type of nerve cells present in a brain determine its function. A cursory review of any neuroscience text would show that it’s that the networks of connections formed by neurons that determine nervous function.
It’s unfortunate to see legitimate research hindered by unfounded fears of a real-life Island of Dr Moreau.
More from the Associated Press…