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Biotech News

Human Animal Hybrid Created in Lab 1208

guanno writes "National Geographic has an article stating that... "Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras--a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal."
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Human Animal Hybrid Created in Lab

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:32PM (#11488809)
    Oh great. Here come the furries [anthrocon.org].
  • by Flakeloaf ( 321975 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:33PM (#11488828) Homepage
    God shmod, I want my monkeyman!
  • Mouse..... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mcknation ( 217793 ) * <nocarrier AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:36PM (#11488858) Homepage
    And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.

    Yes and the answer is 42.

    /-McK
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:37PM (#11488871)
    I remember reading about another medical circumstance that also used the term Chimera. Apparently it's possible for two fraternal embryos in a pregnant woman to combine and become one organism, with two sets of genetics. Some beings composed this way stand out due to differing genetics manifesting different skin on the body; some don't stand out because certain organs or systems have a different genetic makeup than other systems, all internally. It's interesting, as these people have two DNA structures. When I first read Chimera in the context of the headline I wondered what this new thing had to do with the old use, but they appear to be exclusive of each other.

    More here [termpapergenie.com] and here [rcn.com].
    • Well chimera was a monster in the myths of ancient Greece.
      Chimera was beaten by Belerephontis (sp? i know the greek name only) and his horse, Pegasus.
      And ,you guessed it, it was " a monster with the head of a lion, body of a goat and the tail of a dragon"

      So it makes sense to use it in this context.

  • by gardyloo ( 512791 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:37PM (#11488874)
    Sweet. I can sit back and let that sucker go STRAIGHT to the pr0n. clickety, clickety
  • False Advertising (Score:5, Informative)

    by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:39PM (#11488893)
    This is false advertising - when most people think Chimera they think Dongeons and Dragons etc. They even have a picture of a lion with the head of a goat and the tail as a serpant.

    So I read this article and it talks about cells in petri dishes and mice with 1% human brains (which, from what I've read, is a bit of a downgrade).

    I think that there's no sense in starting an uproar over "creating new species" and "playing god" yet. A petri dish is ever so slightly different from a goat-lion-serpant or a girlfriend with the head of a shark.
    • A petri dish is ever so slightly different from a goat-lion-serpant or a girlfriend with the head of a shark.

      I take it there's no such thing as too much teeth for you...
    • Re:False Advertising (Score:3, Informative)

      by trs9000 ( 73898 )
      I think that there's no sense in starting an uproar over "creating new species" and "playing god" yet.
      I sortof agree. But the question is, When is it okay? When can we become upset? It's a very hard line to draw. I think we should be constantly pushing forward and constantly questioning at the same time.
      Because what if they hit upon something? Which might be very useful? Or have ramifications we weren't prepared to deal with? Legislation and public reaction can move slow if the awareness isn't there
  • by RadRafe ( 632260 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:46PM (#11488954) Homepage
    Why do you insist that the human genetic code is "sacred" or "taboo"? It is a chemical process and nothing more. For that matter
    we are chemical processes and nothing more. If you deny yourself a useful tool simply because it reminds you uncomfortably of your mortality, you have uselessly and pointlessly crippled yourself.
    --Chairman Sheng-ji Yang, "Looking God in the Eye"
  • WTF? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ErichTheWebGuy ( 745925 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:47PM (#11488969) Homepage
    Haven't these people seen enough bad sci-fi movies to know that this is a horrible idea? Just like the story a couple of months ago about the armed autonomous robots...

    When will these people learn?
  • xenogenics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by debrain ( 29228 ) * on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:49PM (#11488982) Journal
    From what I vaguely recall, one of the greatest risks of a chimera (aside perhaps from the slippery moral slope), is the risk of a genetic material from diseases that affected their species making a jump to the human species. In essence, diseases that affected that species may be dormant or preserved in those animals, and unleashed, so to speak, in the presence of foreign material such as human organs.

    For example, in this case rabbits: a viral pandemic that killed all but the few naturally-immune bunnies may have left remnants of its genetic material in their DNA. All living bunnies are immune, having derived their genetic material from the bunnies that survived the pandemic. No humans however, have that immunity. Crossing the species procures the possibility of a transfer from bunnies to humans.

    How plausible this is, I couldn't really say. But I seem to remember it having some merit when juxtaposed with concerns over xenogenic transplants, concerns which seem applicable here also. Though the probability of this happening may be low, the damage may be astronomical since it could concoct a disease wholly unknown to science.
    • Re:xenogenics (Score:3, Informative)

      Our DNA, and the DNA of most multicellular animals are filled with viral leftovers. Researchers are investigating how such viral genes may influence evolution. It's nothing particular amazing.
  • by Supurcell ( 834022 ) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:53PM (#11489015)
    Now that I don't have to worry about waking up in a bathtub full of ice with only one kidney. Since we can just grow them in some chimera monstrosity.
  • by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:18AM (#11489228) Journal
    I'm sure I spelled this incorrectly, but I think you get the idea..

    Haven't these people seen the movie yet?

    First Glofish [glofish.com], now this... wtf!

  • I think (Score:3, Funny)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:30AM (#11489318)
    It would be pretty cool to recreate the mythical creatures of ancient Greece... the chimera, the minotaur, the centaur, the satyr, the harpy, the medusa, the pegasus...

    Heck, with a little more effort, we could recreate the whole Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual!

    MMORPG? Pfeh. I vote for Real Life Monster-Fighting Adventures!
  • by danharan ( 714822 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:30AM (#11489322) Journal
    For those who want an unconventional point of view on the question, I recommend Beyond Boundaries [web.net] (Amazon [amazon.com]).

    Funny how 8 years later, all the arguments in TFA are exactly the lame arguments Noske blasts in that book.

    Noske used a neat example of research offered to Amnesty International using pigs to evaluate effects of torture on humans. Pigs make good models, because their skin is so similar -- but wait a second, if they're similar, why don't they have any rights? Oops... from TFA:
    What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have?
    Ahem, *Sub*-human says it all: they're below, we're on top. Now don't get me wrong, I had pork for supper. But to assume we're on top for anything besides a food chain is hard to prove (and bible references don't count as proof in my books).

    Most of the debate around the ethical problems posed by chimeras assume that distinction, but it never really was there.

    This is why Rifkin's attitude makes more sense. What gives us the right to blur the species line in the first place? Why do we insist on splicing fish genes into tomatoes, bacteria into food plants? The risk can not yet be known, and for whose advantage are these apprentice sorcerers working?

    OK, I've said my bit, and donned the asbestos underwear. Flame away if you wish :)
  • Why is it that.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:32AM (#11489334)
    .. you get people jumping up and down when you graft some stem cells into a pig so that its blood is structured like a human's, but there's no such outcry over the fact that great apes effectively have no rights?

    Chimps and gorillas have far more in common with humans than half of the potential chimeras mentioned in the article will ever do.
    • ".. you get people jumping up and down when you graft some stem cells into a pig so that its blood is structured like a human's, but there's no such outcry over the fact that great apes effectively have no rights?

      Chimps and gorillas have far more in common with humans than half of the potential chimeras mentioned in the article will ever do."


      It's about time someone mentioned this! It's funny how the religious right exists on both sides of the equation in this one. If you mess with the sacred human materi
  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:32AM (#11489336)
    Come on people, this is not:
    - A crime against nature
    - A crime against God
    - A crime against humanity
    - Proof of our lack of morals
    - Prelude to apocolypse

    This is scientists, making our world better.

    Remember, their job?

    For those of you who have responded with "Whoa, nay, immoral!" and are also pro-life/anti-abortion, ok, you can go (I'll argue with *you* later, but at least you are consistent). Animal rights types are also excused. For the rest of you, really now, grow up. Even if this was what everyone seems to think it is, a creature magically endowed with half human and half animal DNA, how are you going to justify *NOT* doing it? Superstition? Movies? Old literature? "Just feels wrong?" (like heart transplants, mechanical hearts, vaccines...)

    In order to make a case against something like this, you need to show *who is hurt*.

    A nonsentient lump of cells? Like the ones grown and killed daily in the service of science? Like aborted fetuses? Like the lab animals that can actually feel pain, but we experiment anyway? These are things I'm in favor of, and many of you as well. If you want to get up in a row about something, there's a lot more dubious things than this concept. Getting upset at new things because they are new is for stupid people.

    I expected better from Slashdot, honestly.
    • by james_in_denver ( 757233 ) <james_in_denver@ ... com minus author> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:47AM (#11490010)
      This is scientists, making our world better.

      So YOU say, but you do not speak for the entire human race. Think about it.

      And how then, would you define what a "person" was?

      What rights would something that came from less than 100% human gene stock have?

      You have really not even begun to scratch the surface of the biological, political, economic, ethical OR moral perspectives, and yet you just blindly assume that it's all for the good?

      I think you might have forgotten why Nobel created the peace prize.

    • When the creating or taking of life is involved, I feel that "just feels wrong" is definitely enough reason to stop, if for no other reason than to determine why the action feels wrong.
  • DNA isn't sacred (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:30AM (#11489938) Homepage Journal
    First of all, I hope everyone who uses the phrase "ethical issues" without actually saying what they're talking about, gets modded down to -2. Empty words belie empty thoughts. If you actually have something to say, then say it.

    Now on to the business.

    Creating chimeras, she said, by mixing human and animal gametes (sperms and eggs) or transferring reproductive cells, diminishes human dignity.

    "It would deny that there is something distinctive and valuable about human beings that ought to be honored and protected," said Cohen, who is also the senior research fellow at Georgetown University's Kennedy Institute of Ethics in Washington, D.C.

    Once again, it comes down to the old question: just what is it about a person, that we value to such an extent that we say it has rights?

    If you answer that it has something to do with chromosomes or DNA, then I'm really disappointed. If you're approaching philosophy from the molecular level, you are out on the fringes. I don't give a were-rat's ass if someone programs a chile to produce some protein that I'm not getting/making enough of. But fine, go ahead and try to make a case for why some molecules are sacred and some aren't. At worst, you'll be boring and at best you'll amuse.

    For the mystics, it's easy: just ask if the chimera has a soul. Since you don't have any real way of determining that other than dogma, you'll just make up an answer that you can't defend. But your answer can't be attacked, either, so you'll come off looking better than the human-DNA-is-special wackos. (But remember this: just because people aren't arguing with you, doesn't mean they take you seriously. They just don't see the point.)

    I know what I value in a person. It doesn't have a damned thing to do with sperm and eggs, or DNA at all. In fact, not all people have what I value; some choose to opt out of civilization. Sit down and make yourself comfy in that electric chair, Ted Bundy. I even pay taxes for the military, with the understanding that I want them to kill people under certain circumstances.

    Human behavior itself can cross the line, and you're worried about chemistry?!

    If people can cross the line from this side, maybe they can come over from the other side too. I welcome this Frankenstein stuff, just like I welcome AI and little green men from outer space. I'll make up my mind about the "monster" when I meet him.

  • by Eminence ( 225397 ) <akbrandt@gm a i l . com> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:51AM (#11490026) Homepage
    Nothing really new here, but it explains some phenomena - now I'll now that some politicians are clearly a result of a human-mice brain experiment which went bad...
  • Not hybrids (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits ( 437 ) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @04:31AM (#11490362) Homepage
    First of all, I have to remind all of you (and especially to the obviously mentally deficient authors of the article) that chimeras are not hybrids because they do not have a combined DNA, and therefore can not produce offsprings that inherit their traits.

    Second, I really don't see what the problem is. Anyone wants to write an angry email to the Pope about the possibility of keeping human organs in glass jars? No? What about metal jars? Plastic? Quartz?
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @06:43AM (#11490785)
    Some pharma company came up with mice which had the same type of blood cells as humans. Or something like that. They cost more than regular mice, but they were front page news, like eight years ago or so. They were patented and all that.

    Who the heck cares?

    Every time you pick a mate, you're messing with DNA.

    Well, actually. . , the problem is that the control belongs to soulless corps. How long until they start breeding dumber humans with a gene which makes people reflexively want to Buy Useless Crap. Or react poorly to non-GM foods. Or work smarter with fewer complaints. Oh, the list is endless in a lame sci-fi kind of way.

    The comforting thing is that they never paid much attention to anything but the most trivial 'augmented soldier' nonsense on Star Trek, which leads me to think that it's probably not much of a problem we'll be needing to make any choices about in our current reality. There's not really enough time left to worry about this kind of thing. --The damage was done back when humans were first written. (Clever adjustments were made, such as linking sexual pleasure to violence, and activating the capacity for a strong sense of jealousy. Among other things.)


    -FL

  • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @07:01AM (#11490855)
    "There are other ways to advance medicine and human health besides going out into the strange, brave new world of chimeric animals," Rifkin said, adding that sophisticated computer models can substitute for experimentation on live animals."

    Unless there have been huge leaps in our understanding of biology and chemistry, as well as huge advances in mathematics and computer science and increases in computer manufacturing technology-that I am not aware of, this last statement is most certainly not true. If a computer model could replace animal testing, it would be done. Do people just think that scientists enjoy torturing innocent animals"

    Honestly, the absurdity of this argument is appalling. There are two alternatives to animal testing, human testing and no testing.
  • by Colonel Cholling ( 715787 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @07:48AM (#11491035)
    Scientists attempted to make a pig-elephant chimera, only to find that pig and elephant DNA just won't splice.
  • by TrueJim ( 107565 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @08:25AM (#11491212) Homepage
    Horses and donkeys, of course, can cross-breed to create mules. I recall from one college class (physical anthropology) a discussion about the fact that, in principle, humans and chimps could also cross-breed, though of course the offspring would (like a mule) be sterile. As discussed here: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=152885 2&lastnode_id=1694132 [everything2.com] the number of chromosomes don't necessarily need to be the same, as long as the chromosomes are "homologous" and the male has the fewer number of chromosomes. So in theory we could make a human chimera via simple cross-breeding.

    From the "everything2.com" article referenced above:

    "liger = male lion + female tiger
    tigon or tiglon = male tiger + female lion

    mule = male donkey + female horse
    hinny = male horse + female donkey (jenny)

    zorse = zebra + horse
    zonkey or zebrass = zebra + donkey (ass)
    cama = camel + llama
    catalo or beefalo = buffalo + cattle
    yakalo = yak + buffalo
    wholphin = whale + dolphin (specifically a false killer whale and a bottlenose dolphin)

    Toast of Botswana = goat + sheep
    Obviously this deserves some clarification. While a sheep can be impregnated by a goat, the kid/lamb is always stillborn... except in one case in the early 1990s. This animal was nicknamed the Toast of Botswana. Since it was the only one ever known to have lived, no other name has been given to a goat/sheep combination."
  • by ALpaca2500 ( 125123 ) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @08:32AM (#11491251) Homepage
    i think someone's been watching too much Full Metal Alchemist...
  • Blurring the line (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foolip ( 588195 ) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @08:35AM (#11491275) Homepage

    This article is very interesting from an animal animal liberation/animal rights point of view. Some of the arguments made on both sides are pretty weak:

    But creating human-animal chimeras [...] has raised troubling questions: What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have?

    The assumption seems to be that if we are able to decide when a chimera becomes human, we have solved part of the issue. Why would knowing that an organism is human make a moral difference? If something is genetically human or not does not make a morally relevany difference unless you take a speciecist position claiming that species membership is morally relevant in itself. No defense of that position has to my knowledge been presented.

    Also, it is difficult to see how there can be any new questions of rights since the genetic make-up of an individual is not what grants (or should grant) moral rights in the first place.

    Biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin is opposed to crossing species boundaries, because he believes animals have the right to exist without being tampered with or crossed with another species.

    He concedes that these studies would lead to some medical breakthroughs. Still, they should not be done.

    The problem with any theory of rights is that it does not take into the consideration the consequences of an action beyond which rights are violated, in this case Rifkin claims that it doesn't matter what medical breakthroughs will result, it is still wrong to cross species boundaries. How does this make sense?

    It is also interesting that he believes that animals have the rights not to be crossed with other species -- but who's rights are being violated when that is done? Unless the stem cells being tampered with have rights (how could this possibly be?) it must be the rights of the fully developed chimera which is constantly violated, since it is a cross of different species. But unless the chimera is in some way hurt by being the crossing of two species, what reasonable ground can there be for claiming that its rights are violated anymore than the rights of the mule -- the mixing of a horse and a donkey? Does the fact that humans have deliberately created a new genetic make-up make a moral difference? Why?

    Last year Canada passed the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which bans chimeras. Specifically, it prohibits transferring a nonhuman cell into a human embryo and putting human cells into a nonhuman embryo.

    The Act bans chimeras only when one party is genetically human. How can this be justified? This is a law, and does not carry any ethical/moral weight, but what possible arguments could lay behind the law? Cynthia Cohen gives us an answer:

    Creating chimeras, she said, by mixing human and animal gametes (sperms and eggs) or transferring reproductive cells, diminishes human dignity.

    "It would deny that there is something distinctive and valuable about human beings that ought to be honored and protected"

    "Human dignity", a fancy phrase that sound nice, but is devoid of any meaning. It is the last resort when arguments from a factual basis fail, or maybe a reflection of religious beliefs. She puts it pretty clearly when implying that it would be wrong to "deny that there is something distinctive and valuable about human beings that ought to be honored and protected". This should be denied, vigorously, as it is the basis of much unjustified oppression of non-human animals. Until it is shown what characteristic of humans are "distinctive and valuable" that exists in all humans and does not exist in any non-human animals, there is no merit to the idea of a special human dignity. It is nothing more than poorly masked discrimination on the sole basis of species membership, something which holds

  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday January 27, 2005 @08:54AM (#11491420) Homepage Journal
    Creating chimeras, she said, by mixing human and animal gametes (sperms and eggs) or transferring reproductive cells, diminishes human dignity.
    Dying from a predictable, slowly onsetting, and yet uncurable decease is a lot more diminishing to human dignity. Both to the dying and to the rest of humanity. If these experiments have a chance to help create new therapies -- WELCOME THEM!

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