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Biotech Science

Green Light for Human/Animal Hybrids 292

Posted by Zonk
from the monkeymen-soon-to-be-our-servants dept.
Henneshoe writes "BBC News is reporting that two research facilities have been given the green light to create part human, part animal embryos. According the the report, 'Scientists want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs in a bid to extract stem cells. The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.' The decision to allow the embryos was made after research showed that people in large are OK with the idea."
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Green Light for Human/Animal Hybrids

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:19PM (#22084506) Homepage Journal

    "Your Honour, I was just working on creating a Human/Sheep hybrid."
  • Sweet! (Score:4, Funny)

    by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:22PM (#22084550) Journal
    Dibs on platypus!
  • by faloi (738831) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:22PM (#22084552)
    Do they speak English in Iarge?
  • by KillerCow (213458) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:23PM (#22084574)

    The decision to allow the embryos was made after research showed that people in large are OK with the idea


    I am glad that we are trusting the unwashed masses to make important technical decisions that they know nothing about. If Britney says it's safe, then it must be. God bless Democracy.

    I, for one, welcome our species hopping virus overlords.
    • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:36PM (#22084772) Homepage Journal

      I am glad that we are trusting the unwashed masses to make important technical decisions that they know nothing about.
      I think you misunderstand... the government almost certainly wanted to make sure that there would not be backlash against the idea after having ALREADY made their decision on a technical level (since the advisers in question would have been the ones to bring the issue to that level). However, I'm sure they formed the question in a reasonable way that didn't imply that the island of Dr. Moreau would be coming to a Kwiki-Mart near you. Slashdot, on the other hand....

      Even the summary, once you get past that horrid title, makes it clear that we're not talking about changing the DNA involved, but rather using eggs from animals to grow cells that were taken from a human. I can't really imagine why I'd have a problem with growing cells from a human that way vs. previous experiments that have cultured human cells in a stand-alone environment.

    • by GreggBz (777373)
      ..and they'll never have a reason to learn anything about it if we keep making all the decisions without them.

      Or, maybe they should just ask us experts at slashdot for our opinions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SharpFang (651121)
      The problem is that the scientific community is usually OK with the idea. They know the limits and the problems best, and know how far they can move ahead without doing something that would make them avoid looking in the mirror.

      It's the "unwashed masses" that protest most - people with no clue, no understanding, loaded with prejudices and unwilling to learn - and they can be a serious roadblock. After all, a vote of a scientist is worth the same as a vote of a redneck, but there's 1000 rednecks for each sci
      • by numbski (515011)
        You do understand that there may very well be serious ramifications to creating a chimera, right? Sure, they won't let one grow full term, and even if they did it likely wouldn't survive. Fine.

        What if? How would people react if one of these scientists allowed a chimera to be born?
  • paging... (Score:5, Funny)

    by debatem1 (1087307) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:24PM (#22084584)
    Dr. Moreau unavailable for comment.
    • by nojomofo (123944)
      John Madden throws his support behind it - this should lower the price of turduckens significantly.
    • by Britz (170620)
      First thing that came to my mind was that dreadful island. I listened to the audio book and it was very scary at some points.
  • Presumably none of these so-called "people at-large" have ever seen the movie "The Fly" [imdb.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Surt (22457)
      Sure they did. They rooted for the fly.
      • Which one? The human who slowly turned into a giant fly? or the unshown, but presumed by symmetry fly that slowly turned into a tiny human?
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      First of all, you suck for linking to the sequel and not to the original: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051622/ [imdb.com]

      Secondly, these scientists aren't trying to invent teleportation, they're trying to extract stem cells. Teleportation (and giant flies) are another department.
  • Public Permission? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ranton (36917) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:28PM (#22084652)
    Since when should the perception of the public decide what research is done and which is not? I can at least understand why a panel such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority would want to have their opinion heard, but why would they waste their time consulting the public?

    Why even create such a government body if they were just going to conduct opinion polls to make their decisions? If you are going to assemble a panel of scientists and ethicists to regulate the scientific community (well at least in the UK), at least you would hope they would use their expertise instead of referring to the public.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Surt (22457)
      The only reason for these bodies to exist is to make sure the peasants don't care enough to pick up their pitchforks. If the peasants don't care, the research proceeds. If the peasants are pissed off, public education campaigns occur first.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chandon Seldon (43083)

        The only reason for these bodies to exist is to make sure the peasants don't care enough to pick up their pitchforks. If the peasants don't care, the research proceeds. If the peasants are pissed off, public education campaigns occur first.

        In a perfect world, maybe.

        Back in the real world, enough irrational protest can prevent valuable research from occurring - and leave the related commercial sector scraping by with dysfunctional, archaic, and dangerous technology. For a good example, see nuclear power in

        • by Surt (22457)
          True, you get total agreement from me. What I meant was that these bodies are an attempt at a better process than just allowing the peasants with pitchforks to have their way.
    • Maybe because the peasants are helping to pay for it?

      This really has to be one of the few times I've seen someone argue for LESS public input here on /.
      • by ranton (36917) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:59PM (#22085158)
        Maybe because the peasants are helping to pay for it?

        Public money spent on things the public wants is what charity organizations are for. Spending money on things for the good of the people, but that is something the average person wouldnt want to pay for himself, is what the government is for.
        • I think that may have been a misprint, here let me help.

          Public money spent on things the public wants is what charity organizations are for. Spending money on things for the good of the corporation, but that is something the average person wouldnt want to pay for himself, is what the government is for.
          --
          "What we have in this country is socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor"
          -Gore Vidal
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Serge_Tomiko (1178965)
      Since when should the perception of the public decide what research is done and which is not?

      In the United States, governmental authority and sovereignty rests with the "public". Presumably, their perceptions guide their exercising of their power.

      I have always found the issue of sovereignty a bit strange in the United Kingdom. In the end, the law either derives from the people or the monarch. In either case, a panel of scientists is irrelevant as they do not exercise political power, at least not beyond
    • you're kidding right? read about a period of human scientific study between 1936 and 1945, in Germany. then think about what role the public should play.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ranton (36917)
        I wasnt talking about having no regulation. But if you RTFA, and then read more about the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority at their website: http://www.hfea.gov.uk/ [hfea.gov.uk], you will find that it is a panel consistant of doctors, scientists, and ethicists. In my post I was saying that it is people like this that I would like making these decisions, not joe six pack.
  • Suddenly... (Score:5, Funny)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:28PM (#22084662) Homepage Journal
    Furries across the world rejoiced in their parents' basements.
  • by I8TheWorm (645702) * on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:29PM (#22084674) Journal
    Approved over 4 years after Chinese scientists [newsmax.com] apparently already began experimenting with the same.

    Oh, and the obligatory "I for one welcome our new <insert your own human/animal hybrid here> overlords."
  • That's the most deprived form of alchemy their is...
  • Awww... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:32PM (#22084702) Journal
    The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.

    So, anyone else consider that the single most dissapointing part of this?

    They'd almost certainly not live long enough to ever call them infants, but even in the steps they do last through, we could learn so much by watching how they develop differently from either human or other-half embryos.

    And if they actually lived to term, well, I would consider their cognitive develpment nothing short of fascinating to observe.
    • by ultracool (883965)
      If you actually RTFA, they are not attempting to create new species or anything like that. They want to extract stem cells. That is all right now.
  • by sammyo (166904) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:32PM (#22084706) Journal
    No wait, a human-roach hybrid, now that could like become the actual true master race...
  • How is this better? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shadylookin (1209874) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:32PM (#22084716)
    I know a lot of people are against cloning human embryos extracting the stem cells and then aborting them. So how on earth could splicing humans cells with animals, harvesting it, and then aborting it possibly be construed as better? Personally I don't care either way, but I can't see how you could be happier with cross species embryos than with good old cloning from a moral standpoint
    • by Surt (22457) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:43PM (#22084912) Homepage Journal
      A significant number of the religious fundies would say that a half human monster thing cannot have a soul, so you get a big win over the pure human when you kill it (note that most fundies are not vegetarians, for example, and are perfectly ok with killing animals for research).
    • The difference is that one may be considered an affront to human life whereas the other is more likely to be considered an affront to God.

      While an affront to God may at first seem worse, you have to realize that there are more scientists who don't believe in God than there are who don't believe that they're human.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Artraze (600366)
      This is talking about using an animal embryo to create and harvest cells. The key here is that the embryo itself is animal. Humans have been creating and destroying animal life for ages and only very care so long as the animals don't suffer. The reason why people are against using human embryos is because we'd then be staring to create and destroy _human_ life for research, which is a very different thing. (Of course that's only if you view creating human embryos as creating human life, but many people
    • by DigitalReverend (901909) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @04:11PM (#22085298)
      As a student of theology I might be able to shed some light on this.

      In the eyes of religion, the human egg and the human sperm are considered potential humans, even more so when joined. Hence the reason it is considered sinful when a man "spills his seed".

      Except for the reproductive cells, any other human cell cannot be considered a potential human, therefore using some skin cells and implanting them in a cow egg and aborting the fetus after 14 days would not be considered human abortion.

      Basically this is a loophole around the whole ethics thing as long as the fetus is terminated. A whole new bag of worms is waiting to be opened if one of those embryos goes to term and a 8lb 10oz bouncing blue eyed huvine (boman?) is born.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      The animals used are cute fluffy kittens. When people see the kittens, everyone feels better about the whole process.

      Also, maybe a lot of scientists are furries. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furry_fandom [wikipedia.org]

  • Man, this sounds very fun. I have no clue what they'd create in beyond the 14 days (very unlikely to survive anyway) - the idea that there will be a generation of scientists experienced with work like this is exciting!

    In some years from now, some regime will pay for the experiments to continue the 14 growth into longer periods, perhaps drilling a way towards useful organs. I seriously doubt a full creature could ever result - really. But I'd certainly like to be able to graft on a tail th
  • Island (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:37PM (#22084796) Homepage Journal
    The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.

    I have a hunch that some lab tech would end up with a private Island of Doctor Moreau in their garage, via a few test tubes that were somehow misplaced at the lab.

    Dan East
  • You know weirdly, I'd have been o.k. with it, but now reading the slashdot headline, I'm against it for some weird reason. Why is this?

    I'm o.k. with having pigs and other animals genetically engineered to grow ideal human organs for transplant into humans. I could care less about the animal. I'm also o.k. with vat like bacteria/yeast making various human hormones and other things. I don't care about animals of other species being mass slaughtered for our benefit. I eat at McDonald's every day so I enjoy th
  • You know, since human beings are all biologically classified as animals and the word hybrid has a fuzzy definition to say the least, I would think that everyone would already have the "green light go-ahead" to go and reproduce the old fashioned way. Of course, I could be wrong.
  • by monopole (44023) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:47PM (#22084986)
    ... welcome our new Manimal overlords.
    Especially if they are in Neko Mimi Mode [animegalleries.net].
  • Manbearpig (Score:4, Funny)

    by biscon (942763) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:53PM (#22085064)
    Something half pig, half manbear must come out of this.
    Better call Al Gore.
  • God made man
    But he used the monkey to do it
    Apes in the plan
    Were all here to prove it
    I can walk like an ape
    Talk like an ape
    I can do what a monkey can do
    God made man
    But a monkey supplied the glue

    -JOCKO HOMO

  • by MiniMike (234881) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:57PM (#22085116)
    Will there be overlords?
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Thursday January 17, 2008 @03:59PM (#22085152) Homepage
    Remember how everyone said "Aww shucks! We're just going to use cloning for stem cell research! We'd NEVER do anything funky like crossing humans and animals!" in response to cloning critics?

    Well now those critics have been validated, and the Religious Right has more ammunition with which they can stall actual valid medical research.

    This is what unrestrained morbid curiosity gets you. Too bad productive science as a whole has to suffer.
  • This creepy thing [pravda.ru] is most likely a freakishly deformed puppy, but I'm sure it will be good for some tabloid news stories.
  • The tagline at the top should be changed to:

    "From the Department of Dr. Moreau"
  • Because, you know, that would be a little too creepy.

  • Gives a whole new meaning to the word "furry".
  • ...Not kawaii at all [warehouse23.com]!
  • Just as usual. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @05:13PM (#22086154) Homepage
    There are certainly those who are willing to let it grow beyond the 14 day limit...

    Can be a creepy result... A sheep with a human brain... Or the opposite... Those are extremes...

    But what about a human with polar bear fur?

    Never mind - there are better features that I would have had... Better eyesight maybe? Birds are able to see UV-radiation, and some birds have a lot better vision than humans. On the other hand the genome for UV isn't lost in humans - it's actually changed into blue instead, probably because it's more useful that way. (so we can see the BSOD from M$)

    Or a simple feature - why does humans really need toilet paper? Most animals can keep themselves clean anyway!

    And the XXX industry would like to have a man hung like a horse...

    And the athletes would like to be able to run like a cheetah.

    But don't forget - humans are actually one of the more adaptable species in the world, even if laziness and sex drive are the most prominent features of a human. (don't underestimate the amount of work a human can do to avoid work later...)

  • Will I get better mileage with a human/animal hybrid than a gas/electric?
  • Regulators in the UK have given scientists the green light to create human-animal embryos for research.
    Humans are animals.

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