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Scientists Create Sheep That Are 15 Percent Human 475

anthemaniac writes "Professor Esmail Zanjani and colleagues at the University of Nevada-Reno have created sheep that are 15 percent human at the cellular level. Half the organs in the sheep are human. The idea, of course, is to harvest those organs to transplant into human patients. From the article: 'He has already created a sheep liver which has a large proportion of human cells and eventually hopes to precisely match a sheep to a transplant patient, using their own stem cells to create their own flock of sheep.' One scientists worries, however, that the work could lead to new viruses that cross from animals to humans."
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Scientists Create Sheep That Are 15 Percent Human

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  • by Harmonious Botch ( 921977 ) * on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:12PM (#18493083) Homepage Journal
    I can't figure out if it means we'll have more republicans or more democrats, but either way it worries me.
    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:15PM (#18493137)
      about its effects on the international haggis market.
    • by anagama ( 611277 )
      More republicans as they tend to be more religious ("sheep") ...Hmmm. The whole stem cell thing however suggests more Democrats. But after becoming sheep, perhaps heathen Democrats will become bible banger Republicans. Of course, they might then suffer such cognitive dissonance that they'd commit suicide leading to more Democrats. But then suicide is a sin .... this is hard to calculate. Oh wait, no need. Contraception is a sin. We're doomed to be overrun by the uber-religious no matter how human the s
    • by no_pets ( 881013 )
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by errxn ( 108621 )
      Either that, or more journalists. I hear that they're about 15% human.
    • Why does an Australian/Kiwi wear gumboots? So the sheep can't run away when you shag it!

      Does this mean sheep shagging is no longer bestiality? OTOH, if it is human, a sheep dies long before reaching the age of consent so you'd get in trouble for sex with a minor.

    • by had3l ( 814482 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:56PM (#18493869)
      Hah, in Soviet Russia, humans are 100% sheep.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Neither. They'll all have matching black wool and berets, and become fine-arts majors expressing their individuality.
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AxemRed ( 755470 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:13PM (#18493093)
    We're one step closer to real sheeple.
    • Re:Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

      by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:16PM (#18493161) Homepage Journal
      Next we are going to have to send the sheep to public schools. And humans are going to complain that they are taking over our jobs.
    • I'm not certain, but I think this sort of thing was the intent behind the spirit of the law attempting to regulate stem cell research. Given the possiblity that such a chimera could go haywire, or drastically upset the food chain, or that experiments of this kind might eventually be used on unsuspecting or unwilling human participants it's just not a good idea to go meddling around with technology in this particular way.

      At the same time the letter of the law application of stem-cell research regulations, w
      • I dont see any real ethical problems with this as long as they dont breed with normal sheep.

        Keep them separate and you end up with on-demand organs which will save many lives.
      • Re:Sweet! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @05:44PM (#18494459)
        Upset the food chain?

        They feed chickens to cows, cows to chickens, fish to both, and GM corn with antibiotics to the chickens in the first place. The food chain looks like a fractal, not a line with humans at the top.

        This won't fuck up the food chain any more than we already have.

        And if I was dying (at a faster rate than the default) then I'd try out any new thing that could give me hope or maybe help out some other folks after me. So what if I have a sheep's liver, a robotic heart, and an embedded neural stabilizer?
        • Re:Sweet! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ThomK ( 194273 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @07:52AM (#18499987) Homepage Journal

          They feed chickens to cows, cows to chickens, fish to both, and GM corn with antibiotics to the chickens in the first place. The food chain looks like a fractal, not a line with humans at the top.

          I totally agree, which is why I'm a Vegan. I switched about a year and a half ago and have since lost 70 pounds (I started out at 240) and my cholesterol and heart rate are down the line perfect. I'm not a PETA supporter, I still wear leather, I can not stand most animals and for the most part am just an average Joe. I'm not a Vegan for the sake of the animals, I'm a Vegan for my own well being.

          The book at this link: http://www.drfuhrman.com/weightloss/about.aspx/ [drfuhrman.com] convinced me to become Vegan. If you are having any health problems (like sleep apnea or type 2 diabetes) you should run, not walk, to amazon.com to buy that book (I think you can get it used for under $5), it will change your life.

          There is a lot of confusing information about diet out there, this book cuts through all that and basically tells you what's up. I want to walk up to overweight people and shake them and say "There's a better way! Read this!"

          To end my commercial (for which I get paid nothing) I'd say: It has a very "Hack your body" feel to it, which is perfect for the Slashdot crowd. He goes into the details of the numbers of calories, nutrients, protein, fat, sugar, etc. It's an amazingly fast read, especially for a technical person.

  • Sheeple?
  • !5%.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:14PM (#18493119)
    So, at what percentage does the sheep begin to obtain certain "unalienable rights"? Or; "When is a toaster not a toaster?"
    And yes, I'm aware that "unalienable" is wrong, but it was good enough for the Founding Fathers, so it's good enough for me. Grammar Nazis can keep their mouth shut.
    • by C10H14N2 ( 640033 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#18493191)
      One cell would suffice.

      Boy is this one going to piss them of no end... /My captcha was "Pounded"
    • Yes, when will they say if you have even one drop of sheep blood, you are a sheep and therefore subject to the new Jim Crow laws...?

      And please, would someone get these scientists (and the politicians/corporations who are supporting them) to watch Clonus [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re:!5%.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:26PM (#18493351)
      Every time I read articles like this, and get to hear the inevitable mudslinging that ensues, I don't know who I want to beat over the head with a biology textbook - the writers of the article, or the readers.

      These sheep are not 15% human, there is no such thing - they're 15% antigenically identical. There is no percentage at which they will become human, because their basic structure is still of a sheep!
      • Yes, 15% (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @05:59PM (#18494635) Journal
        These sheep are not 15% human, there is no such thing - they're 15% antigenically identical. There is no percentage at which they will become human, because their basic structure is still of a sheep!

        These are not hybrids or the result of genetic engineering. They are chimeras: Organisms composed of two separate clone of cells. Some of the cells are 100% human, some are 100% sheep. The total animal has 15% of its cells being 100% human (surface antigens and all), not 100% of its cells having 15% human traits. (The immune system matured in the presence of both so it doesn't attack either.)

        The cells are in coherent lumps, too. Entire organs - including the brain - may be 100% human tissue. (Though they may be morphologically similar to the sheep equivalent because they were exposed mainly to sheep growth factors while forming.)
    • by RingDev ( 879105 )
      Don't worry, we'll just classify them all as terrorist and it won't be an issue.

  • Please, just don't... don't give them brains. That would be BAAAAAD!
  • by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:17PM (#18493163)
    When I saw this, I thought the amazing thing was how the human organs managed to maintain much of their functionality in sheep. The idea of harvesting them for later use back in humans seems cool, but sensationalist at this point. IMHO, the most remarkable thing here is that one could get a very realistic model of human diseases in animals, upon which to dissect out the mechanisms of diseases and look for/test treatments.
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#18493195) Homepage Journal
    Hey, Lamby, you got any human in you?

    Just 15%? What do you say we make it 20?
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#18493199)
    I hope they isolate these sheep from other sheep populations. If the diseases can adapt to attack the human organs in the sheep environment, then we've potentially got a very large set of new diseases waiting to trickle in to the human population as they adapt to the new organs.

    I believe there's already been at least one fictional book on this topic already. Ah, here it is. [scottsigler.net]

    Ryan Fenton
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Worse, consider the risks of venereal disease, particularly in Scotland.
  • Now those sheep farmers caught with their pants down lovin' the sheep in the fields won't get charged with bestiality... maybe just jailed for rape instead!

    This is just a fruitcake-land idea... chimeras are BAD BAD BAD
  • by myth24601 ( 893486 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:20PM (#18493237)
    When they get to 51% human can you marry them?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You've obviously never met my ex-wife.
  • Well, yes, we're killing sheep but at leas the help is more relevant. A transplanted organ will work for years or decades - a worthy sacrfice. When I eat lambchops I'm hungry just a few hours later.
  • Maybe not with sheep, but I'm pretty sure we have goat-human hybrid's already walking among us [wikipedia.org] :)
  • Skittles already has prior art [tvcommercialblog.com].
  • I don't know, tastes more like chicken to me.
  • Sheep (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sporkinum ( 655143 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:22PM (#18493275)
    "Bleating and babbling I fell on his neck with a scream.
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers
    March cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream."
  • (obvious political/polling joke goes here)

    but seriously, folks, back when men were MEN and sheep ran scared... (obvious king/subjects/fleecing joke goes here)

    I don't want 15% human content in my supper. (obvious online sex site joke goes here.)


    can ANYbody take this seriously?
  • by cashman73 ( 855518 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:22PM (#18493281) Journal
    I would be interested to know whether the right wing right-to-lifers would be pissed off that you're raising innocent animals for the sole purpose of slaughtering and harvesting them for their organs,...

    Or would the left wing animal rights naked PETA supporters be pissed off that you're raising innocent animals for the sole purpose of slaughtering and harvesting them for their organs,...

    On the bright side, we might have actually found an issue that both the left and right wingers actually agree on!

  • people in West Virginia have been making these for YEARS!
  • Is that measured by volume or by weight?
  • Well, combine that with this four-nipple cousin [nzherald.co.nz], plastic surgeons will be able to serve two clients with one sheep.
  • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:27PM (#18493365) Homepage
    Mary had a little lamb.
    • Just wait till Old McDonald has a farm!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I can't find the cartoon online, but about last summer Utne Reader ran a small cartoon of a sheep with a human face, and the caption,

      "And With Help From the Transpecies Movement, Mary Became a Little Lamb"

      In all seriousness, Sheep get prion diseases, which advance rather quickly. Am I going to have to be ready to put down my coworkers due to Scrapie [wikipedia.org]?
    • Mary had a little lamb.


      Actually, if "lamb" is not gender specific then would it be "lesbeeaaaan" or change to "A little lamb had Mary".

      Still, Bow-chicka-bow-wow!
  • ... given that so many people seem to already be 51% sheep.
  • The idea, of course, is to harvest those organs to transplant into human patients

    What about cooking and eating those organs?
  • by IgLou ( 732042 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:29PM (#18493421)
    Ok, if I ate a sheep that was 15% human would that make me 15% cannibal?

    And don't go looking at me like it hasn't crossed any of your minds!
  • I for one welcome our new sheep-hybrid overlords.
  • My weekends are about to get a whole lot better.

  • Talk about some gamey mutton.
  • I can't wait for this. Be still my bleating heart!
  • If someone pokes them in the stomach 20 times, they might explode?
  • No Welsh jokes yet? Wyoming Farmer Jokes?

    *sigh*... I am so disappointed in you people.


  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:49PM (#18493753)
    I don't see a probaalem with doing this. It sounds useful and baaenificial.
  • by vik ( 17857 ) on Monday March 26, 2007 @04:50PM (#18493781) Homepage Journal
    A mock-horror film about genetically modified sheep turning bad, just released:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sheep_(2007_fil m) [wikipedia.org]

    "There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand....and they're pissed off!"

    Vik :v)
  • What was the old record?
  • Politicians are busy trying to create people that are more than 15% sheep...

    At this stage, it is uncertain who has made better progress, but it's not looking good for the scientists...

  • My first thought was "wait, I thought humans and sheep were already 95% the same!" or whatever (misleading) statistic people come up with.

    But, more seriously, the species-crossing virus is a problem, but it also is a good thing. Right now we have lousy animal models for AIDS and leprosy. If we could get animal models for these, it could be a great help in finding a treatment for them. On a purely creepy level, you can give a 90% human sheep drug-resistant tuberculosis and treat it, while you can't do tha
  • Queue bestiality joke in 5...4...3...
  • So it has come to organ harvesting now - killing animals not only for their 'meat', but for their organs.

    fucking brutal society.
  • The real question is, at what percent does breeding cease to be cross-breeding?
  • ...on a Saturday Night Live skit once?
  • Or something like that. When they start walking on two feet, I'm going to worry.
  • "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again."
  • out of order? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by freaker_TuC ( 7632 ) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:33AM (#18498461) Homepage Journal
    I would think that's out of order. Ok to procreate but to create new species is beyond our knowledge if we can't even get our own species settled right. To my opinion and it can sound dark; we should not mess too much with crossbreeding ourselves and animals on foodchain; we'd never know what we would become in the future by one stupid little mistake; If any disease gets spread it might be hell to fix this ...

    We should not become what we fear the most, movies like the Matrix where humans are harvested sounds very dark for most among us, why would we do the same on partial sheep/partial human chimera? What makes us have that right anyways ? All in the name of science? ok, we need to improve and survive but why not do it on a less risky way?

    Nature always finds a way to survive, what if this sheep gets loose [apple.com] and interbreeds, gets >15% human? What if it does not comprehend our actions against its sisters? Does it get civilian rights if it gets to a certain amount of humanity?

It is contrary to reasoning to say that there is a vacuum or space in which there is absolutely nothing. -- Descartes