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Biotech Science

Human-Animal Hybrids Fail 554

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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  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:02PM (#26712075)
    I believe that, at least in the case of cat-girls and bunny-girls, that question has already been answered.
  • I was looking forward to Giraffe man.

  • 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.

    • 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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:33PM (#26712841)

        Nazi scientists maiming and blinding unwilling subjects happened.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pizzach ( 1011925 )

        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 greenreaper ( 205818 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:48PM (#26713187) Homepage Journal
          I'm fine with people sorting ethics out in their own minds. It's when they start saying "hey, you can't do this unless and until I think it's OK" that I have a problem.
          If you want government grants for this kind of stuff, sure. Your funding comes from taxpayers, they have to approve it. 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.
          • 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 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.

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

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

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

          • 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.

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

      by nobodylocalhost ( 1343981 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:23PM (#26712609)

      Speak of Pandora's box, replacing the animal DNA with human DNA in an animal cell is pretty much like taking out a big chunk of code out of your text editor in binary form, replace them with another chunk of code from your image editing software, without any understanding of what exactly is the processor doing, and hope the end result will actually execute and lets you edit images. TFA indicated that the right genes are getting turned off. What we really should worry about is what genes are getting turned on since our DNA is littered with inactive segments of virus RNAs. We may stumble on something that we don't know how to deal with.

    • 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.

  • But would cow and rabbit be the most likely candidates for human hybridization? Wouldn't chimp make a lot more sense?
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      You mean we can't!?

      Dammit guess I'll stop my nightly reactor core exposure sessions...:(

    • Of course you can make mutant atomic supermen. All you need is some DNA and chronitons. Who wouldn't want to have a cannon in their chest or extendible arms?

      Granted, you may have to go to the Forbidden Zone in the Galaxy of Terror to get them, but so what?

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Or better yet, imagine if we could make a device for turning on / pointing at things at a distance (I don't remember what he used it for or called it so joke fails ..)

    • 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.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:07PM (#26712213)

    Rabbit eggs? I guess the easter bunny has to make money somehow in the off-season.

  • Making a human-animal hybrid is a waste of time, the real challenge is making something far superior to man.

    The five-assed monkey [].

  • My one hope for not dying a virgin geek...crushed like a grape under a giant anthromorphic fighting robot's foot. I'm doomed...

    Guess I'll have to go with my backup plan to hack into a government mainframe and accidentally create Kelly LeBrock during a lightning storm. ;)

  • 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 ) <> 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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jswigart ( 1004637 )

      Religious views have never been based on good arguments.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 )
      For me, its not so appalling because "It won't have a soul!!!" but appalling because of the chance that it _will_.

      Suppose Religion is real and you create some kind of sci-fi cartoonish Larson-esque Cow Person who actually _has_ a soul... and it spends its life, at best, ostracized by humanity, and at worse, spends its short life in experiments before being destroyed.

      Religious people aren't against cloning because they think something won't have a soul... they're against it because some scientist is pl
    • by SkOink ( 212592 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:27PM (#26712691) Homepage

      There are a lot of cases where genetic engineering (either cloning or hybridization) DOES raise many valid ethical concerns.

      Think about this:

      1) Would you feel bad about taking organs from a clone which was grown without any brain?
      2) What about a clone who had a brain the size of a bird's?
      3) What about a clone with a brain the size of a three year old?

      Or say we made some humans who had the intelligence of a dog. Would they be less than human? Could we treat them like slaves and train them just like we train dogs now? What would happen if one of the subhumans bred with a real human? Would the result be 'human' enough that you would treat it like a human?

    • It feels like religion/morals is the justification they use for all of their decisions here in the States. As an American, an atheist, and a college graduate it really bothers me that it feels like everything is justified by a religion rather than logic. Didn't these guys study formal logic in law school?

      Unfortunately, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" is not the same as "Congress shall make no law whose only justification is an establishment of religion"

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:13PM (#26713729)

      Every ethical argument has some unjustifiable assumptions at its base.

      "We should maximize the sum of human happiness over time." But why?

      "Do unto others as you'd have them do to you." But why?

      "Let everyone do their own thing so long as it doesn't impinge on your own happiness." But why?

      "Respect the sanctity of human life, from conception through to death." But why?

      "Don't punish the innocent." But why?

      "All men are created equal." Really? Why do you think that? ('self-evidence' isn't a very solid ground in an argument.)

      Utilitarianism and humanism are just as arbitrary as disliking human cloning. Worse, actually, since they so often fool their adherents into thinking that the basis of their morality is rationality.

  • "how we would treat sub-humans will have to wait until we actually figure out how to make them"... I think it's time to start to give it some thoughts. This is quite a bit different from creating a car, telephone or light bulb...etc.
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:10PM (#26712311)

    Hierarchy of geekdom. Published scifi authors at the top, furries at the bottom, erotic furries below that. []

  • It would seem more beneficial to try to give specific animal abilities to humans such as increased sensory or physical ability rather than make animals more human. I would think that the only real ability we have is our thumbs and higher reasoning skills, which would need to be intact to truly benefit the animal. Making a dog .5 IQ points smarter by inserting human genes to stimulate brain development makes great science, but isn't that useful in practice. It would need to be a huge jump to make much differ
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Of course, neither of those is the goal of the research.

      The idea is to create animals that can manufacture various human tissues, whether it's a particular protein, a new heart, or stem cells.

      We used animals to produce insulin for a long time, until someone figured out how to genetically engineer bacteria to produce human insulin, or even modified human insulin with particular properties. Now there's interest in engineering plants to produce human insulin.

  • According to wikipedia [], "Prospective studies using very sensitive early pregnancy tests have found that 25% of pregnancies are miscarried by the sixth week LMP (since the woman's Last Menstrual Period). Clinical miscarriages (those occurring after the sixth week LMP) occur in 8% of pregnancies." And that's with all-human cells and genes, in an effectively optimal environment for the embryo to grow.

    More-or-less haphazardly mixing up nonhuman cells/genes with human ones (which is, at present, all we're tech

  • I guess this proves that manbearpig is a figment of the imagination.
  • 'Sub' human? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spatial ( 1235392 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:15PM (#26712431)
    Such an ugly term. How about Parahuman?
  • Privet hedges is the only other species to have 23 pairs of chromosomes - the same as Man. We should be cross-breeding humans with plants!
  • Some kind of PigBearMan?

  • by Ailure ( 853833 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:20PM (#26712541) Homepage
    Anyone else read the title of this Slashdot story, and thought it was about how much anime and furry fans fail? ;)
  • the question of how we would treat sub-humans will have to wait until we actually figure out how to make them

    Why? I think it _should_ be the other way around.

  • Many animals have natural immunity to diseases that we don't. Or digest particular foods better then we do, or have instincts of healthier activities, such as preferring the taste of vegetables over high fat meet. Lets say for example we bread a human with a shark and a rabbit. Immune from Cancer however prefers vegetables and able to digest vegetables more efficiency.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @01:29PM (#26712737)

    "putting human DNA into cow or rabbit eggs"

    No wonder it doesn't work. Cows don't even lay eggs!! Must be the UN scientists...

  • by xerxesVII ( 707232 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @02:55PM (#26714561)

    SailorSpork writes "Fans of furries and anime-style cat girls ..."

    I call bullshit on this right out the gate.

    There is NO SUCH THING as a fan of a furry.


    Furries are mocked and persecuted throughout the internets. In real life, parents (realizing that it is too late to leave them hobbled in the woods) disown them. The feeble-minded openly deride them. Even juggaloes cannot abide the presence of furries.

    I understand the occasional grammar or spelling mixup. I really do. But to allow such an egregious error to be posted is on par with a summary detailing the efforts of General Fred Rogers leading his unicorn cavalry against the Mongolian horde.

  • by nimblebrain ( 683478 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2009 @03:26PM (#26715149) Homepage Journal

    It has been known for a while now that enucleating an egg (i.e. removing its nucleus) and putting the nucleus of an adult cell inside it seems to do somewhat of a reset. This makes a little sense, since mammalian eggs have chemicals and chemical gradients necessary to uncover the right genes to start off the process.

    Given how hard it is to get eggs from humans, other animals would be ideal.

    The thing is, the nuclei of these eggs are removed. There is one thing of the animals' genes that would remain, though: the mitochondria. That's why you can trace just your maternal line through your mitochondria - they are provided almost exclusively by the egg. If this ever gets used for actual cloning, imagine how this could screw up a deep ancestry project!

    Mitochondria do pretty much the same job and have done so for aeons. They do mutate faster, though, so there *might* be other jobs that they are doing for us that are slightly incompatible. On the whole, though, probably not. In the end, chances are that the only fantasy "hybrid" part of this is human cells with animal batteries.

    There's a lot of basic research left to do to see how cow and rabbit eggs (especially the ever-copious rabbit eggs!) differ from human eggs in terms of the chemical environment they provide, but once we figure that out, we will have another avenue of making stem cell equivalents, valuable for all sorts of things including spinal cord repair.

    Cloning is a little different than therapeutic stem cell application would be, however. You cannot just throw cloned 'stem' cells into a body - you will get a teratoma: a disgusting ball of flesh with all the body tissues in it. You need to coax it down other development paths first. You can wait for a cloned embryo to develop and take out that particular kind of tissue, which is where some ethical considerations come in, or you can apply hormones and other chemicals to do the job.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.