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Biotech Science

Scientists Give Human Organs to Lamb 589

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the island-of-dr.-moreau dept.
TK Interior writes "Myrtle Beach Online reports the existence of a lamb-human chimera-- a blend of two different species. Not only has a lamb been given a human liver and heart, but mice are sporting human brain cells. At what level is a chimera 'too' human? Where do you draw the line between human and animal? How will this affect evolution?"
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Scientists Give Human Organs to Lamb

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  • by oexeo (816786) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:32AM (#10930593)
    These things aren't new, they've been posting on /. for years!
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @01:54PM (#10932112)
      These things have the potential of being extremely dangerous. Unknown viruses that have become harmless to the animal may be lethal to humans. In a chimera, the virus may mutate to be able to pass from one human to another, even through airborn contact.
      This is the greatest nightmare of the Centers for Disease Control. They strongly discourage experimentation and research involving chimeras, even (and especially) research using animal organs for human transplant.
      This is not a joke, or poorly written science fiction.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:34AM (#10930597)
    This can only be ba-a-a-a-ad.
    • by goon america (536413) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:51AM (#10930695) Homepage Journal
      The full quote is, "four legs good, two legs bad"

      Some animals are more equal than others.
      • Re:I don't like it. (Score:5, Informative)

        by double-oh three (688874) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:56PM (#10931731)
        The fuller quote is:
        " 1. Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy.
        2. Whatever goes on four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
        3. No animal shall wear clothes.
        4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
        5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
        6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
        7. All animals are equal. "

        After a few revisions it ends up as; "
        1. "Four legs good, two legs better!"
        2. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
        3. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
        4. No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
        5. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

  • Too human? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saven Marek (739395) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:34AM (#10930598)
    Too human is perhaps the point when, if, we get to making an animal that can perform as the midspecies link between two diseases?

    A disease that affects sheep maybe can gestate over years in a flock of sheep and then suddenly because they have many human organs its affecting humans too. It opens a door of potentials not all of which are good

    The nets biggest nude anime gallery's [sharkfire.net]
    • Re:Too human? (Score:4, Informative)

      by RichDice (7079) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:48AM (#10930685)
      I think this is an interesting take on things, but I have to ask, does this mean that pigs and fowl -- as is -- are "too human"? Diseases from these jump over to the human populations in SE Asia, and then to the rest of the world, all the time. They're called this year's new strain of flu.

      Cheers,
      Richard

    • Dangerously human (Score:4, Insightful)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @10:16AM (#10930815)
      The danger I think is that viruses in the host animal will now have an opportunity to learn how to invade human cells under favorable conditions. We are gaurenteeing our own extinction by disease.

      As it stands asia is the source of virtualy all flu and africa the source of all Ebola. In both cases it's believed to be because of the biological conditions that put animals and humans in close contact where the viruses can jump between species. In the case of flu the host animal is birds which then jumps to mamals via pigs. Pigs are close enought o human that the jump to human is easy. and then it's flu season. In the case of Ebola no one knows what the host animal is. Apparently its not harmful to its host since it would slauter it wholsesale if it were as deadly as it is in humans. When it jumps to human's the only good nes is that it is so lethal it tends to kill it's host quicker than it spreads in rural africa. NY city might be a different story.

      Some people think that ebola's natural host is a monkey or an ape.

      Apes get many diseases we dont. For example Simian Aids. What would happen if we were to put human cells in an ape, then simian aids learned how to infect these cells. Then it jumped to the human population.

      We are porting disease from the antire animal kingdom to our own without considering the consequences

      • by lawpoop (604919) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:41PM (#10931626) Homepage Journal

        I hear a gargling sound.

        I suggest you have a look at _Guns, Germs, and Steel_. Most, if not all, of our diseases have come from herd animals that we domesticated. We've gotten this far after 6,000 years with the filthy beasts; I hardly think we'll become extinct now, especially with our new-fangled medical technology.

        As far as simian AIDS infecting humans, human AIDS is probably the exact same thing -- a bug some human picked up from an ape around 70-100 years ago in Africa. What would happen if simian AIDS jumped again? Probably what's going on now with regular AIDS.

        "We are porting disease from the antire animal kingdom to our own without considering the consequences." This is nothing new. We've done fine so far.

      • by Viceice (462967)
        I think it's a double edge sword. While what you say is correct, the reverse might be true. Say theres a disease that affects humans but not sheep, as the sheep had developed an effective antibody against it.

        What if the sheep with such a transplant managed to adapt it's antibody to protect it's implant?

        I'm not a doctor so i have no idea if it's possible, but i'm thinking along the lines of how we produce snake anti-venon with the aid of horses.

    • Re:Too human? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xyrus (755017) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @10:25AM (#10930870) Journal
      With all science there is some risk.

      But why do this?

      With the massive shortages of organs for transplantation, we need to do somehing.

      Using stem cells to grow new organs or repair damaged ones was a good idea until Bush nipped that in the bud.

      So instead of that relatively safe research, scientist are looking to alter animals to grow the organs for us.

      But, as you point out, there are many risks involved. Transpecies pandemics is just one of them.

      ~X~
      "If ignorance is bliss then Bush must be living in a fucking paradise."
      • Re:Too human? (Score:3, Informative)

        by sosegumu (696957)

        This is the problem: The Law of Unintended Consequences [wikipedia.org]. As complexity of an endeavor increases so do the amount of unintended consequences.

        I'm not saying that there aren't compelling reasons for pursuing this type of thing, I'm just saying that the downside risk is just too great. Like any other great catastrophe, this potential one would come from an unforeseen unknown/error.

      • Re:Too human? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @11:16AM (#10931148)
        Exactly. There's a need for cures and treatments. Custom grown organs save lives, but I'm afraid the theocratic elements in the US would rather fight their "holy war" over zygotes than cure juvenille diabetes. To them, people living in "the world of sin" deserve to get sick. These people disgust me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:35AM (#10930600)
    than a human with a pig heart is a pig. It's about DNA, not body parts.
    • by HalfFlat (121672) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:58AM (#10930735)
      No it's not about DNA.

      Such thinking is behind all the current nonsense concerning abortion and stem cells research.

      If you believe DNA is what determines human-ness, then all the cellular detritus that you leave scattered about every day is just as human as you are. You would have to claim that the snot you pick out of your nose has the same human rights as your mother. It's just daft.

      What counts as human is not the DNA.

      What constitutes human then? The sensible answer is my view (and others) is that it depends upon the thing's ability to be part of a society with other 'humans', and to have qualities such as empathy, self-consciousness and the like which are regarded as human qualities. Without those, a thing is no more human than its DNA might be.

      I imagine that every time I sneeze, I eject more 'human' than there is in a 3-day old embryo -- by the DNA line of reasoning. It's just silly.

      DNA is simply something that current humans have in common. Given how unimportant it really is, it seems quite possible in the future that there will be (human-constructed) things which are human in all the important senses, even if they don't have the same DNA as my toe-nail clippings.
      • Well, I can think of situations where a person no longer qualifies for your definition of human. Quick example - someone in a coma. An infant probably wouldn't qualify either.

        And this portion, ability to be part of a society, probably disqualifies half of the people reading this message.
        • re infants and the brain dead: yup. Sounds like an excuse for some speculative fiction to raise awareness of these issues and get people debating them.
        • A person in a coma, who is not going to come out of it unassisted, and who does not have anyone care about them one way or the other, is effectively not any more human than a forgotten dead person is, at least as far as anyone else is concerned.

          People in comas who have relationships with other people, are definitely part of the network of human society, even though it may be passive. You can make a case for them being human in some senses but not others. Same applies for infants.

          Even if you disagree with
    • A pig heart has pig DNA but doesn't make its recipient a pig; a human liver has human DNA but doesn't make a chimera human. The body part that counts is what you think with: a hypothetical sheep with a human brain would probably be better described as a human with a sheep body.

      Of course, there could be ethical problems other than whether we should create or how we should treat "humanimals" - perhaps it's just my ignorance of biology, but human organs growing up in animal bodies sounds like the perfect "bo
  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hamster Of Death (413544) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:35AM (#10930601)
    I welcome our 5 assed overlords!
  • by ilyanep (823855) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:35AM (#10930604) Journal
    I wouldn't consider transplanting human organs into an animal a chimera. When they can put human DNA and make human organs grow naturally in an animal, then we'll have a chimera (and a little problem on our hands).
    • I wouldn't consider transplanting human organs into an animal a chimera. When they can put human DNA and make human organs grow naturally in an animal, then we'll have a chimera (and a little problem on our hands).

      Should I stop my Monkey-Man experiments then?

  • Did we see this article (by the same author from the Washington Post) in a /. post a couple of days ago? http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/2 0/2240209&tid=191&tid=14 [slashdot.org]
    • And in fact, the article credits "Rick Weiss/The Washington Post".

      One doesn't ordinarily expect to see major scientific news break in the Myrtle Beach Online. I'm sure it's a fine paper, but nearly every local newspaper gets its national news from a wire service like AP, or a "national" paper (Washington Post, New York Times, occasionally the LA Times or Chicago Tribune or a handful of others).

      I grew up with the Washington Post as my daily newspaper, in which local news rarely makes the front page, or ev
  • by Anonymous Coward
    it really kicks the llama's ass!
  • Evolution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Claire-plus-plus (786407) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:39AM (#10930631) Journal
    "How will this affect evolution?"

    Many things effect evolution... Medical science has been effecting evolution for a very long time as people who would have died because of genetic illness have lived on through medical science. The human species has not had real natural selection for a long time because we do not die from genetic problems as often.

    The only evolution humans are likely to undergo is a scary one. Stupid people are having more children than smart people, therefore people are going to get stupider. Maybe it's already happened
    • Re:Evolution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ralph Yarro (704772) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:44AM (#10930665) Homepage
      The human species has not had real natural selection for a long time because we do not die from genetic problems as often.

      Nonsense. You might as well claim that birds don't face natural selection because their parents feed them as babies instead of letting them starve or that that they don't face natural selection because their nests help keep them warm.

      A bunch of people helping each other to survive is a product of natural selection, not its absence.

      Part of our environment is now the existence of hospitals and scientists. Some people thrive in that environment who would die childless in other environments. Again, this is natural selction at work.
      • Re:Evolution (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you say that you are somewhat lacking in your sense of natural selection. Natural selection occurs when an individual dies before breeding or otherwise fails to breed, thus not handing on their genes. Among humans pretty much everyone lives long enough to breed, and thus genetics that do not select for survival are passed on. I am not saying that we should stop people with genetic diseases from breeding, just that by removing selective pressures from the species we might be stopping evolution.

        Birds
        • Re:Evolution (Score:2, Informative)

          by Ralph Yarro (704772)
          Natural selection occurs when an individual dies before breeding or otherwise fails to breed, thus not handing on their genes.

          Pretty much right, to refine it slightly more, rather than "fails to breed" you mean "fails to produce viable offspring". Might as well drop the bit about the individual dying first, it adds nothing.

          Among humans pretty much everyone lives long enough to breed, and thus genetics that do not select for survival are passed on.

          I'm not sure what proportion of the population fails to
    • >The human species has not had real natural selection for a long time because we do not die from genetic problems as often.

      Wasn't that Hitler's reason for eliminating the disabled/ill?

      >Stupid people are having more children than smart people, therefore people are going to get stupider.

      You can't generalize like that - some smart (and/or rich) people have a bunch of kids. But at least they provide for them, whereas taxpayers have to pay up for "breeders" (weird term, saw it somewhere on the Net) who
    • Re:Evolution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phizzits (800857)
      So true. Diseases like diabetes, which were once fatal, are now affecting more and more people just because we can treat it. And diabetes seems to be a somewhat dominant gene or set of genes, so in a couple hundred years we could all be carrying around insulin pumps and buying it at the local pharmacy in the Insulin isle. Many such diseases and deformities exist. And with comsetic surgery, teeth straightening, and laser eye surgery getting cheaper all too fast, we can see an end to sexual discrimination
      • Re:Evolution (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @11:07AM (#10931110)
        So true. Diseases like diabetes, which were once fatal, are now affecting more and more people just because we can treat it.

        Fears of genetic disease increasing because of treatment prolonging survival are largely misplaced. Unless people with the disease have more children than people without it (i.e. if the "disease" is in some sense beneficial in a fitness sense) their reproduction will not contribute to an overall increase in disease frequency. So if the treatment is perfectly effective, then the frequency of the disease will only increase at the rate at which new carriers of the disease allele arise by spontaneous mutation. However, most treatments are not perfectly effective (i.e. people with diabetes are still a lot more likely to die young than people without it) and the mutation rate is low. So increase in genetic disease frequency due to medical treatment is unlikely--at worst, it will decrease more slowly.

        And eventually, it will be possible to correct all identified genetic diseases at the DNA level, and the problem will become moot.
    • >>How will this affect evolution?

      Until they put human testicles on a mouse it won't affect it.
    • Evolution is dead, and that isn't a bad thing. You can't live in a technological society without first doing a number of evolution. In order to have fancy things like computers, you need humans to not only live well past 30, but you need a lot of them, and they need lots of free time. In other words, you need to make people live longer and healthier lives with surviving to do. You need to put them into shelters, give them more food then they need, protect them from infection, and insure that they can cr
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGPNO@SPAMColinGregoryPalmer.net> on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:39AM (#10930633) Homepage
    How will this affect evolution?

    Not at all since the reproductive cells are not affected.


    -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
  • Evolution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dancin_Santa (265275)
    First of all, no species has ever been shown to evolve into another species. No scientific experiment has ever proved this.

    But back to the topic at hand, I don't think we have anything to fear from inserting human genes into non-human subjects. As long as the resulting creatures are kept isolated from the general population of creatures, such a "mutation" is highly unlikely to infect the general population with abnormal genes.

    But then again, this all throws in the trash the whole idea of genetic enginee
    • > As long as the resulting creatures are kept isolated from the general population of creatures, such a "mutation" is highly unlikely to infect the general population with abnormal genes.

      That's the whole problem - they said that about genetically modified corps and couple years later they've discovered that isolation is impossible.

      >The problem is a philosophical one, because we can't offer these advances to everyone. We must decide who is important and who is not.

      That decision should not be made (e
    • First of all, no species has ever been shown to evolve into another species. No scientific experiment has ever proved this.

      no scientific experiment ever proved anything. they are set up to disprove theories. nothing has ever disproved the theory of evolution is what you are trying to say I think.

      • Plenty of scienfitific experiments set out to prove something. For a theory to be considered valid there needs to be at least some evidence for the theory, not just the lack of evidence against it. The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim. There's never been any evidence against the existence of a giant invisible mind controlling goat either, it doesn't mean it's a valid scientific theory.

        By the way, I'm not saying there isn't evidence supporting evolution, there's plenty of it, I'm just cor
        • sorry what you are arguing is that plenty of experiments set out to show something, but not prove it. nothing can prove any scientific theory. experiments are performed to try to confirm that the logical predictions of a theory are indeed the case, and many experiments are done just to try to get the same results as other experiments. some are done just to see what happens and note the results in order that a theory may emerge to explain your results. but none are done to prove a theory. the greatest e
    • Re:Evolution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kalidasa (577403) * on Saturday November 27, 2004 @10:17AM (#10930818) Journal

      First of all, no species has ever been shown to evolve into another species. No scientific experiment has ever proved this.

      Actually, species have been OBSERVED evolving into other species. Bacterial species. You may have experienced the result yourself: antibiotic resistance.

      • Re:Evolution (Score:3, Informative)

        by gblues (90260)
        Wake me up when an E.coli bacteria transforms into a non-E.coli bacteria. You can create a strain that is immune to every known antibiotic, but it will still be E.coli!
    • Re:Evolution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgibbs (83782)
      First of all, no species has ever been shown to evolve into another species.

      You must have been reading Creationist propaganda. Beware. Those guys lie a lot (it's OK--it's all in the service of the Lord). In reality, there are lots of examples [talkorigins.org]of speciation being observed. For that matter, some of the products of artificial selection, such as Great Danes and Chihuahuas, would unquestionably be classified as different species if discovered in the wild. This isn't evolution (because the selection is artifi
  • How will this affect evolution???

    Let me ask you this - how will this affect OUTSOURCING?

    Gives a whole new meaning to "code monkey"....
  • too human (Score:5, Funny)

    by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:42AM (#10930651) Homepage
    At what level is a chimera 'too' human?

    Slashdotter: ...?
    Goat: Not tonight honey, I have a headache.
  • Goat Sheep (Score:5, Informative)

    by CGP314 (672613) <CGPNO@SPAMColinGregoryPalmer.net> on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:43AM (#10930656) Homepage
    In science, an animal is a chimera [wikipedia.org] if the cells throughout the animal are from two different animals. This is accomplished by mixing the zygotes (see the geep [wikipedia.org]). You don't get a chimera through organ transplant.


    -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
  • "How will this affect evolution?"

    Assuming that you meant to say "effect", unless you mix our DNA this will have absolutely no effect on evolution.

    You aren't talking about the conscious subjective aspect of an emotion considered apart from bodily changes [m-w.com] by any chance, are you?
  • Probably no differently than our efforts are already having an effect. Unless a human-enhanced animal gets out and breeds in captivity, we won't see any new species adaptations except for those that we ourselves design. That said, what about going the other way? Would night-shift workers want to get implanted with bat ears so they could communte in the dark?

    I think the ability to spray my scent on something(one) would come in handy during arguments.
    "Yea well you're stupid!"
    Psssssssst
    "Yuck! I concede!"
  • by lxt (724570)
    ...because there is no line to draw. "Animal" simply means "A multicellular organism of the kingdom Animalia" - Animal is a classification, and humans are part of the Animalia kingdom. Thus, humans are animals.

    Lambs are animals.
    Humans are animals.
    Simple as that. Humans are not some special exemption - they are animals, and so to say "when do you draw the line between humans and animals" is just plain wrong. Go take a basic high school Biology course.

    Perhaps what was meant to be said was "species" - a spe
    • by efatapo (567889) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @10:42AM (#10930967) Homepage
      Well, you may have passed your high school biology class (and I stress may) but you certainly haven't followed that through with upper level classes.

      Although humans could technically breed with sheep (and living near Wales, I should know...), the offspring would be sterile...

      Technically, no they couldn't. The sperm-egg recognition factors (proteins that stick out of the egg) have specific receptors on the sperm. Most animals will not recognize the receptor-ligand interaction of other animals. Additionally, the egg secretes molecules that the sperm uses to find the egg and these are also not conserved between species.

      Additionally, I'll let the other posters explain to you the many many differences that separate humans from animals. Sorry bud, but you're way off on this argument. There's a lot more to life than biology when it comes to distinguising animals and humans. Not my field though...biochemistry is.
  • "So baby, what are you doing tonight? baaaaaaaaaah
  • why? (Score:2, Funny)

    by MeatBlast (834728)
    I personally wish they wouldn't do things like this. One mix-up and we could have an all powerful, super smart bear on our hands. Just leave the dumb animals alone.
  • How will it affect Evolution? It won't at all, Evolution is a process built into the Universe as I see it. We're always evolving but the selection pressure's are always shifting. The moment a doctor cures a disease in a person is the instant that that selection pressure was removed from that individuals small contribution to natural evolution. Instead it confer's a trait that is defined by how much an individual has access to quality health care as a new societal selection pressure.


    Or I could just be
  • Imagine... (Score:2, Funny)

    by DrMindWarp (663427)
    ...a biowolf cluster of those.

    You know lambs, wolves... oh, just forget it.

  • by orthogonal (588627) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @09:56AM (#10930725) Journal
    Lends a whole new meaning to the Fundies' proselytizing question, "are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? [accsoft.com.au]", doesn't it?

    "Yes, that lamb really did die for my sins, in this case, donating its liver to redeem the rampant alcoholism I developed trying to wrap my head around why you Fundies voted for four more years of Bush."
  • Some of our staff have gotten transplanted monkey organs. They jack off furiously all day and throw feces at one another during staff meeting.
  • Why do mice need human brain cells?
    Aren't they the smartest species on Earth (followed by dolphins)?
  • Heeellllpp mmeeee! HHHEEEELLLLLPP MMMEEEEEE!!! [imdb.com]

    It would be funny if life wasn't so sacred.
  • Only Objection (Score:2, Insightful)

    by boatboy (549643)
    As a conservative Christian, I think the objection on the grounds animals should "multiply according to their kind" is weak depending on the methods used to create these chimeras. Obviously combining human gametes with animals' would be beastiality, which most people would still object to. But using adult stem cells or transplantation to do this isn't objectionable in my opinion.

    The only real problem I see is illustrated in the following quote: If two such chimeras - say, mice - were to mate, a human e
    • Re:Only Objection (Score:3, Insightful)

      by karzan (132637)
      I would imagine that the doctor was speaking of the embryo dying in the same way you might speak of someone's liver dying, their toe dying, or any other living tissue dying.

      That is an entirely different kind of 'life' and 'death' to the kind you're talking about, which is to say, a kind of autonomous human life--a life of its own (which a toe does not have). At that point you are talking about a matter of definition--is the embryo a separate life form yet, or is it merely an extension of the mother, in th
    • Wait a minute, a "conservative Christian" who doesn't run around pronouncing "Jesus" with more than two syllables, doesn't reject any science since the 16th century and doesn't wear a T-shirt that says "God Hates Fags!".

      According to the New York Times, sir, you shouldn't exist. If they are wrong about that... maybe they are wrong about...

      Norman! Please coordinate.
  • Somehow I think that sheep and pigs can do just fine without human parts. What I would be highly interested in is having animal parts in humans. It's a known fact that human organs are in short supply, and if we can "grow" them from animals, that would substantially increase the number available to people around the world.

    Of course, then you would have to worry about cross-species dieases (AIDS is a known one) and the social stigma of such a transplant.

  • One of the primary dangers in this is increasing the contact of sheep viruses with human organs.

    That is the primary way of allowing a virus to adapt and cross-species jump.
  • before we have a talking dog named Nina then?

    (I've been watching too much Fullmetal Alchemist lately and all these chimera stories are giving me the heebie jeebies)
  • 1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
    2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
    3. No animal shall wear clothes.
    4. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
    5. No animal shall drink alcohol in excess.
    6. No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
    7. All animals are equal.
  • by payndz (589033) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @10:21AM (#10930844)
    You know what they're doing tonight? The same thing they do every night. PLOTTING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!
  • "During 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."

    It is time for Scientists to put down their petty differences! If we do not alow ourselves to start human lives inside animals how will we ever bring forth the Armageddon? HOW?! Its very clear from sctripture and popular film that we need to have human babies born from jakels. And until that happens the Liberals just don't have a shot
  • are we willing to risk the lives of many by saving a few? I am talking about things like organ transplants from animals to humans and the risk of letting animals' viruses to cross species and to attack humans? The article states that some cells in pigs used to grow human organs fuse with pig's cells and this creates this very real risk.

    I am not sure this is good for survival of our species, even though it may save some individuals.

    Then again, I am for anything that makes the highways go faster, so if ha
  • stupid (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jay9333 (749797)
    How could having a human heart make an animal human? That's like saying a person with a liver transplant is now two people. No Einstien, its one person and a liver (albeit a new one). When we can transplant a mind and a soul to an animal and then have a conversation with it in which we contemplate the meaning of life, that's when we can start asking quesitons like this. And that is never going to happen.

    And as far as evolution is concerned... that's just another pile of horseshit. The only difference
  • by PontifexPrimus (576159) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @10:40AM (#10930948)
    ...at least on the genetic level.
    Since one of the x chromosomes in every female is "deactivated" [rcn.com] and turned into a Barr body (to avoid aneuploidy) and which one is chosen is completely random, it can be said that all women contain two separate genetic makeups, resulting in a genetic mosaic: a chimera.
    • by myc (105406)
      moderators: please go take a genetics course. Barr bodies are formed not to make females chimeras, but to balance out X chromosome gene expression. humans are obligate diploids, and so by definition all humans, male and females are hybrids of their parents. it has nothing to do with X chromosome inactivation.
      • Formation of Barr bodies is a result of inactivation of one x chromosome, thus keeping all genes on of them from being expressed, resulting in a different genotype from a cell where the other one is inactivated. Meaning there are two different possible genetic informations for each cell depending on which one forms the Barr body. A chimera is defined [websters-d...online.org] as an organism consisting of cells containing more than one genotype (usually created by combining embryonic cells at an early development stage), which human
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Saturday November 27, 2004 @11:24AM (#10931203) Homepage
    ...and this time the lamb had a little Mary.
  • by SuperDuG (134989) <be.eclec@tk> on Saturday November 27, 2004 @12:31PM (#10931573) Homepage Journal
    I'm all about advancing science, but with the number of people worldwide waiting for organs wouldn't this prove to be "wasteful". That was a heart that a human being could have had and the same with the liver. There was nothing wrong with the sheep before, and there was no pressing need to put a human heart into it except to say "Lookee here we done put a human heart into a sheep!".

    The question isnt about evolution, the question is about ethics. Should we as humans be "playing god"?

    I believe so. Thats not to say that I am correct though.

    Was this a waste? Looking at the rate of organ rejection and other complications not to mention the recepient already being in bad health, it could have easily failed inside of a human and worked in a sheep.

    There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people waiting for organs who go without everyday because people don't sign their organ donor cards or because family members refuse to let them be a donor.

    If anything let this article serve as a beacon of hope for the future and a reminder to let your family know if you are an organ donor.

    Even with the rate of failure of transplants, you don't need them when you're dead.

  • Answers: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Saturday November 27, 2004 @08:26PM (#10934398) Homepage

    At what level is a chimera 'too' human?

    When it is sentient.

    Where do you draw the line between human and animal?

    In the current definition "human" means species homo sapiens. The only significant distinctive feature of humans, is sentience, that is a result of a particular advanced structure of human brain, that, among other distinctive features, provides capability for development of abstract thought, structured language and production of tools. First never develops in animals or machines (machines can perform operations that are part of abstract thinking process, however only humans are currently capable of developing abstract structures from external stimuli without pre-existing knowledge of their structure, so development is still specific to humans), second and third are not developed by anyone but humans except in the simpliest forms possible. In theory, there may be, or will be other sentient beings that should be considered human, even if they do not share the same origin, and some creatures that have the same or close origin, yet lack sentience, and therefore can never be considered human.

    How will this affect evolution?

    Not at all. Evolution happens only through hereditary changes in organisms.

    Can we go home now? I mean, didn't humans develop a better definition for themselves than "Two-legged, without feathers"?

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