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Biotech Government

Hybrid Human-Animal DNA Experiments Raise Concerns 311

Posted by Soulskill
from the wonder-what-al-gore-thinks-about-this dept.
Kevin Fishburne writes "British scientists are calling for a new agency to oversee the mixing of human and animal DNA, which is progressing at a rate most may not be aware of: 'Among experimentation that might spark concern are those where human brain cells might change animal brains, those that could lead to the fertilization of human eggs in animals and any modifications of animals that might create attributes considered uniquely human, like facial features, skin or speech. ... Some disagree. "We think some of these should be done, but they should be done in an open way to maintain public confidence," said Robin Lovell-Badge, head of stem cell biology and developmental genetics at Britain's Medical Research Council, one of the expert group members. He said experiments injecting human brain cells into the brains of rats might help develop new stroke treatments or that growing human skin on mice could further understanding of skin cancer.'"
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Hybrid Human-Animal DNA Experiments Raise Concerns

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  • by cnettel (836611) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:06AM (#36845298)
    And suddenly you have a whole different bag of problems. Even just sequencing genomes have frequently been done by putting huge parts of human DNA into yeast or other hosts as a method for amplification and storage. Are the yeast cells human? No. Is a mouse with a single human gene (maybe a disease allele) human? No, and your suggestion would seriously hamper research. Is a bacterium with a human or rather human-derived insulin gene human? No.

    On the other hand, is there a problem if one would create e.g. the equivalent of a geep (a sheep-goat chimera, really two distinctive cell lines constituting different parts of the same body) from chimp and human lines? I would definitely think so. The tipping point is not too clear, and that's really the problem here. "Any creature with human DNA" is far too broad, so what criterion should we use.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 22, 2011 @10:15AM (#36845418) Journal
    I'm afraid that I have some bad news for you: Even non-biologists might end up making some pretty massive child-support payments(and having to put up with some fairly nasty organisms) [nature.com].

    While horizontal gene transfer, in nature, doesn't seem to be as common in large eukaryotes as it is in bacteria, there are trillions and trillions of viruses out there, and sometimes they are sloppy. You definitely contain nontrivial amounts of their DNA, some of them might have acquired a few little bits of you...

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