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Biotech Science

Human-Animal Hybrids Fail 554

Posted by timothy
from the good-help-hard-to-find dept.
SailorSpork writes "Fans of furries and anime-style cat girls will be disappointed by the news that attempts to create human animal hybrids have failed. Experiments by British scientists to create embryonic stem cells by putting human DNA into cow or rabbit eggs had raised ethical concerns, but the question of how we would treat sub-humans will have to wait until we actually figure out how to make them."
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Human-Animal Hybrids Fail

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  • Just a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Syncerus (213609) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:05PM (#26712173)

    Maybe we should resolve the ethical concerns before we perform the science ...

    This is opening Pandora's Box.

  • To bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:06PM (#26712207)
    To bad DNA doesn't work like this. This is almost as bad as someone thinking the can make 'atomic super men' ala Futurama.
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:07PM (#26712235)
    ...but the question of how we would treat sub-humans will have to wait until we actually figure out how to make them.

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Hell, we're still dealing with how people should treat other actual humans.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:08PM (#26712257) Homepage Journal
    This has a lot of the same false problems that seems to plague morality based discussions of human cloning. The idea that a clone is going to be some sort of non-human entity with no moral standing one way or the other is just plain nuts. If you clone a person then that person has all of the rights any other person would have. It's really just a complicated way of giving birth. Even these human-animal hybrids are badly named, as they aren't going to be catgirls or manbearpigs or anything of the sort, just normal people with a really weird birth.

    The only time ethical concerns should really come into play is when you're attempting to convict someone of a crime based on DNA evidence, but it's not like the law has not had to deal with this sort of problem before. Identical twins have already generated plenty of precedents to draw from.

    It drives me crazy when congresspeople are spending hours and hours talking about how cloning is an affront before god and has to be stopped, but can't seem to make a good argument as to why other than citing bad movie plots or vague "They won't have a soul!" type arguments.
  • by greenreaper (205818) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:13PM (#26712385) Homepage Journal
    Whatever happened to doing things because we *could*, rather than because we should?
  • by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:14PM (#26712405)

    ...but the question of how we would treat sub-humans will have to wait until we actually figure out how to make them.
    Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Hell, we're still dealing with how people should treat other actual humans.

    Ironically, by treating said humans like sub-humans.

  • Re:enough (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zakabog (603757) <john@nosPAm.jmaug.com> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:17PM (#26712481)

    enough about some other guy's sexual fantasy life being destroyed

    can we get back to the urgent need to make fully human women with four breasts and two vaginas now please?

    Unless you want to share with your friends, two vaginas and four breasts are useless.

    The key is to give men four arms and hands, that way even if the woman only has two breasts you can still use the other two hands to grab her ass. As an added bonus if they ever develop a four breasted woman humanity would be ready for it.

  • Re:Just a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by princessproton (1362559) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:19PM (#26712525)

    Just because exploring the ethical consequences hasn't been the modus operandi thus far, it doesn't mean that it isn't a cause worth considering. The fewer the people who stand up and ask for moral considerations, the easier it is for ethical abuses to occur unnoticed and unchecked. (Or, put in an even more cliche manner, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.")

  • by jswigart (1004637) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:20PM (#26712547)

    Religious views have never been based on good arguments.

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:22PM (#26712575)

    Too bad DNA doesn't work like this.

    I really find myself wondering, where's the "duh" tag for this article? Sheesh. We've known for *decades* that radical hybridization simply don't work. Anyone remember the totato / pomato? Not the grafted gimmick plant, but the actual genetic hybrid? Yeah, didn't think so. That didn't work either.

    Cheers,

  • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:29PM (#26712751)

    If we're going to perform cloning just for organ harvesting, we can easily just not allow the brain to develop. Hell, just make it a torso with no head or limbs. Just a nutrient intake tube and waste output tube.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:29PM (#26712757)
    And when it smells blood it goes into a biting frenzy, and it breeds out of control.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:33PM (#26712841)

    Nazi scientists maiming and blinding unwilling subjects happened.

  • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach@gmailTIGER.com minus cat> on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:34PM (#26712859) Homepage

    Even from a non ethical moralist view, the parent of the parent was right. When someone says maybe we should sort the paperwork out first, it doesn't mean the is a neat freak and you would be considered an ass for calling him one.

    Sorting out ethics in ones mind does not make them a "moralist". Someone getting their heart ready for something big doesn't make them a moralist either.

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:35PM (#26712901)

    Yeah, but what if it all goes wrong, and we end up with a killing machine that loves meat and breeds like crazy? Oh wait...

  • Re:Just a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:49PM (#26713235)

    Maybe we should resolve the ethical concerns before we perform the science ...

    This is opening Pandora's Box.

    Seems to me the only time we resolve ethical concerns are when the ethical concerns become obsolete. People are still debating whether abortion is ethical. It comes down to a matter of beliefs. Does a human genetic code constitute an independant human? Your answer to that question, reguardless of how much you believe it, is not based on fact. Different people don't all share your beliefs and will have different answers. There is no resolving this ethics question. Well, there is one way, and that is to perform the science. If it turns out to be a scientific dead-end, then we'll have our answer: no it is not ethical because it's pointless.

    Note that I'm not saying lets do it BECAUSE it might be a scientific dead end and then we can move on, that would be a terrible reason to do something. Just pointing out that waiting for the ethical question to be answered 100% is basically a sneaky way of saying "lets not do this ever because I am uncomfortable with it."

  • Re:Just a thought (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:53PM (#26713329)

    Maybe we should resolve the ethical concerns before we perform the science ...

    This is opening Pandora's Box.

    How, exactly, do you propose to resolve the ethical concerns before we even know what they are?

    You're suggesting that we sit down and thoroughly examine all the possible ethical concerns ahead of time and come to some kind of consensus...

    Never mind the fact that we can't even get everyone to agree on how human beings should be treated, let's all figure out how we're going to treat our human/animal hybrids.

    And then, after tons of debate and discussion it turns out we can't even make human/animal hybrids. Tons of wasted time and effort.

    Or maybe our hybrids turn out to have no more brainpower than the animals they were hybridized with, but we've already decided that they should have the right to vote.

    Or maybe our hybrids turn out to be far smarter than us and take over.

  • by fmobus (831767) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:55PM (#26713355)
    Why? No brain, no suffering. Also, you're not barring an potentially interesting DNA instance from ever randomly developing that specific way again - after all, it is already a clone of some DNA instance.
  • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:57PM (#26713401)

    Whatever happened to doing things because we *could*, rather than because we should?

    It ended when we exploded the hydrogen bomb.

  • by qbzzt (11136) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:00PM (#26713437)

    If it's a matter of some guy creating human-animal hybrids on his own personal island, I don't see that it's anyone else's business.

    What if it's a couple torturing or killing their own kids?

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:04PM (#26713535) Homepage

    Whatever happened to doing things because we *could*, rather than because we should?

    And we're tired of people like you who treat a sentient life form as fucking science project! Then you scream, "but... but... I'm not a Nazi! I'm experimenting on ape-men, not Jews!"

  • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:05PM (#26713551)

    What if I have my own island and I breed humans for food. Is that wrong? If so then why? it doesn't hurt _you_

    See this relativist shit is too much for me. Inside every man's head (the sane ones) is a morality calling out that says "this is WRONG". Stop playing the "everything is gray" card because it's not. You live in a community and if said community says you should stop you either remove yourself completely from that community (good luck) or you comply. If you want to change the community views then so be it, but don't pretend for a second you live on some isolated island and have no contact with humanity so it's all OK as long as you stick to your own ethos. The community has a say also and has just as much right to "tell you what to do" when it comes to questions of morality. Morality is a social issue just as much as it's a personal issue.

     

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:12PM (#26713709) Journal

    In what way is an embryo sentient? Sentience [wikipedia.org] is the ability to feel or perceive subjectively. Absent any nervous system, an embryo, even a purely human embryo, is not sentient.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:17PM (#26713823) Journal

    I have absolutely no problems with the idea. It's completely unfeasible, but I don't see how it poses any moral or ethical difficulty at all.

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:18PM (#26713837)

    Part of why I mentioned the pomato is that the potato and tomato are both members of the same genus, Solanum [wikipedia.org], a.k.a. the deadly nightshade family. For that matter, tobacco is part of the same grouping, making the apocryphal tomacco another intra-genus hybrid. Yet none of these intra-genus hybrids is viable.

    Now, what the article is talking about is hybridization of species even further apart, walking back up the taxonomic tree by several nodes. If we cannot even produce viable intra-genus hybrids, we sure aren't going to be producing viable intra-family, intra-order, or intra-class hybrids any time soon. FWIW, my own guess is that it'll take us 10-20 years to get an intra-genus hybrid, and much longer for hybrids of species further apart -- partial genetic borrowing notwithstanding, such as the glow-in-the-dark pigs crafted using certain jellyfish genes.

    Basically, my point is that, in the absence of any hybrid between humans and chimps or bonobos, the two other extant species widely regarded as the most closely related to H. sapiens, we should not be the least bit surprised that hybrids with species that aren't even *primates* should fail in utero, and I would go so far as to say that their failure would fall firmly in the "No shit, Sherlock" category of unsurprising. (No offense meant, just stating my personal view of the article.)

    Cheers,

  • By Neruos (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:20PM (#26713899)

    Of course it will fail. Gene's, DNA and proteins are not 'plug n play'. If you want cat eyes, there is a lot more then trying to mix cat eye dna with human eye dna. The brain has no clue how to use a cat eye, the body has no idea how to maintain it.

    It is possible, but not by some nub methods like these.

  • by MickLinux (579158) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:25PM (#26713985) Journal

    It isn't just the community that defines what is right and wrong.

    The Nazi community defined that Jews were subhuman.

    Our community defined that barely-preborn or just-born children are subhuman (and we're about to do so again, via the FOCA).

    There is a more absolute definition of right and wrong than that -- but I'm not allowed to say, or the thought-police censors known as "slashdot moderators" will tag me as flame bait, overrated, or some such.

    Note that such censorship is not based on the value of the thinking that goes into the comment, but just based on their own gut reaction, because they don't like it. Oh, well.

    Here goes -- Right and Wrong is defined by the one who created the entire system we live in. He has admin and ownership rights, and gets to define that. Our best interpretations of who he is, and what he has defined, come through our rational analysis of when we run into those rules, as well as our rational analysis of his direct interventions of the system. In my case, my rational analysis indicates a probability that the Christian Bible is correct. Others, with different data, or different levels of ability to reason, may conclude differently. But there is only one "right" answer, and some peoples' answers are going to be closer to the "right" answer than others.

    So I'd say that the Christian Trinitarian God defines right and wrong. And he defines that there are no subhumans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:37PM (#26714237)

    If it's a matter of some guy creating human-animal hybrids on his own personal island, I don't see that it's anyone else's business.

    And then the dinosaurs escape Jurassic Park when the power is cut and before they can blow up the island. "I don't give a shit about how many people they just killed or how much damage they caused! I thought it was a good idea to clone dinosaurs without any warning or discussion, I'm cool with the consequences, so you can all just suck it!"

    There's a reason mad scientists are generally considered villains in most areas of fiction.

  • by greenreaper (205818) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:48PM (#26714407) Homepage Journal
    I didn't say it was wrong. Don't put words in my mouth.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:54PM (#26714543)
    I'm afraid I don't understand how FOCA impacts infants after birth, which is what I presume "just born" means? As for "barely-preborn", yes, we call that a fetus and we don't currently believe a fetus has rights as a person until it is born. Unfortunately, there are only two obvious points in time at which one could cite the recognition of rights, being conception and delivery. If we want to grant that a fetus at any particular point in development does not yet have rights as a person, (which I do, personally) then the line must necessarily occur at delivery. To place it at any point other than those two leaves too much room for argument and error on either side.
  • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @03:04PM (#26714715)
    Your absolute definition is, to me, simply one of many relative definitions of right and wrong. Without a supreme authority there can be no absolute definition. That doesn't mean an individual can't act based on their own morals, but they have to accept others may disagree with them. I tend to see moral certainty as a crutch. Life is not black and white, what seems wrong in one situation may seem right in another. You make the choices you make, often between one "wrong" and another.

    For example, we have prisons. I put it to you that it is a dreadful thing to be deprived of your freedom. Still we put people in prison because the costs of not doing so are seen to be too great. This does NOT make it "right" to imprison anyone, to claim it does is comforting but deluded. It is simply necessary. (Well, that's a different discussion.)

    What I'm getting at here is that accepting moral relativism doesn't necessarily mean accepting every kind of behaviour. It can also mean acting on your own beliefs, even to the detriment of others, and accepting that your own judgment is all you have to fall back on. Pragmatically, absolute and relative morals behave the same way. If one view - let's say mine - is absolutely correct, then everything I do that is in accordance with that view is acceptable. If every view is equally correct, then everything I do in accordance with my own view is correct in my own system, and that's as good as it can ever get. To live is to tread on others. You can try to minimize that if you wish, but you will hurt others, and no justification will make that hurt go away. You just make do.
  • by mdielmann (514750) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @03:53PM (#26715621) Homepage Journal

    Well, those embryos are 9 months and a bit of luck away from being sentient, whereas you are one hammer-blow and a bit of luck away from no longer being sentient (and not necessarily dead). And yet I don't think that gives us a right to experiment on those of us who are less fortunate than others.
    Yes, there are issues with this line of reasoning with respect to the more intelligent animals, but necessity trumps some things, and keep in mind we still experiment on humans - just once we feel we've reduced the risks sufficiently through other tests. Someone was the first guy to get a pig valve implanted in his heart, and I'd be unsurprised if the success rate was lower at first due to the experimental nature of the treatment.

  • by qbzzt (11136) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:09PM (#26715945)

    Because then I could argue that" Yes, they may be experimenting on their own kids but at least they did not abort them.

    Where do you draw the line?

    Hard to say, which is precisely why I have a problem with abortion. At some point, between conception and the age of legal majority, we have a legally protected person. But birth seems arbitrary.

  • by Darby (84953) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:27PM (#26716251)

    In my case, my rational analysis indicates a probability that the Christian Bible is correct.

    Sorry, you made some decent points until that.

    In your case, your entirely irrational desire to have your favorite magical invisible fairy be the "real" one indicates that probability to you.

    An actual rational analysis would leave you convinced that, while there might be some god somewhere, there's no way in hell it could possibly be that one.

    You believe it because your parents shoved it down your throat when your brain wasn't properly formed and for no other reason.
    If your parents were Muslim, you'd be a Muslim.

    Rationally, that's exactly how it works.
    Irrationality is all that you have to back up your *belief*.

  • by eonlabs (921625) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @04:57PM (#26716735) Journal

    It's clear how you would treat them considering your choice of words.
    'sub-human' versus 'semi-human'

    Great way to hold no bias at the opening of THIS discussion.
    O_o

  • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:17PM (#26717045)

    Pascal's Wager could prove that he is actually being very rational by believing in a deity.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/ [stanford.edu]

  • by bane2571 (1024309) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @05:36PM (#26717345)
    Now you see, this one is hard to moderate. If it's Obama you're talking about you're a likely troll. If it's Bush you're talking about then you're hilarious.
  • by Twanfox (185252) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @12:37AM (#26721155)

    How about this less extreme take? What if it's a couple raising their children in a way you don't particularly like? Spanking responsibly (ie: not beating), but you feel Time Outs are the only proper way? There really is a point at which, no matter what your personal opinion on the matter is, unless you can prove a personal stake in the matter, you should just let it go. By utilizing your freedoms and inflicting your will on others, you restrict their freedom unfairly, just because you think what they're doing is wrong. Get over it.

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