Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Science

American Scientists Working On Creating Chimeras: Half-Human, Half-Animal Embryos (ibtimes.com.au) 242

Researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on creating half-human, half-animal hybrid embryos dubbed chimeras to better understand diseases and its progression. But not everybody is thrilled about it. IBTimes reports: One of the aims of the experiment using chimeras is to create farm animals with human organs. The body parts could then be harvested and transplanted into very sick people. However, a number of bioethicists and scientists frown on the creation of interspecies embryos which they believe crosses the line. New York Medical College Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy Stuart Newman calls the use of chimeras as entering unsettling ground which damages "our sense of humanity." They are not alone in voicing their opinion against the idea. Huffington Post adds: The project is so controversial that the National Institutes of Health has refused to fund it. The researchers are relying on private donors. Critics of these experiments say they are too risky because there is no way of knowing where the human stem cells will go. Will they just become a pancreas? Or could they become a brain? And if they become a brain, will the pigs who house them have human consciousness?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

American Scientists Working On Creating Chimeras: Half-Human, Half-Animal Embryos

Comments Filter:
  • by JayPee ( 4090 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:17PM (#52174059)

    A pig with human consciousness? They've already succeeded! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Donald Trump.

    Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all night.

  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:18PM (#52174061)

    I guess PuppyMonkeyBaby was ahead of its time.

  • It depends (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:22PM (#52174097)

    I'm absolutely against it for organ harvesting!

    On the other hand, I'm totally for it because that means we'll finally get catgirls, foxgirls, bunnygirls, etc!

    • I shudder to think what the Furry community will do with this technology.

      • Oh Great, a whole new Bathroom controversy as the Fury clans all want their own "non-human" bathrooms. Thanks Obama!

        • by slew ( 2918 )

          Oh Great, a whole new Bathroom controversy as the Fury clans all want their own "non-human" bathrooms. Thanks Obama!

          Nice try, they will of course be able to use the bathroom where they feel most comfortable...
          In the case of furries, perhaps they won't be comfortable in any bathroom and instead will be allowed to mark their own territory?

        • You just know those dratted felines will want their own litter boxes.

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            Cats can be trained to use a toilet [wikihow.com]. Many prefer it because they no longer have to spend time burying their waste. The biggest drawback [catbehavio...ciates.com] is you have to leave the lid up and the seat down, but that drawback wouldn't quite apply to hypothetical cat people.

            • I've seen plenty of humans that still need to be trained how to use a toilet. :(
              And I'm not talking about the adolescent variety either...
            • by bjwest ( 14070 )

              ... The biggest drawback [catbehavio...ciates.com] is you have to leave the lid up and the seat down, but that drawback wouldn't quite apply to hypothetical cat people.

              The only drawback I see in it is having to remember to put the seat down when you're done. I guess living with a toilet trained cat is the same as living with a woman with the exception that a woman may not shit on the floor next to the toilet whey you forget.

            • Then the dog comes in and drinks from the toilet o_O
            • A small subset of cats can successfully be trained to do so.
      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        I shudder to think what the Furry community will do with this technology.

        As a furry and knowing the actual community in real life rather than just the online fetishists... I expect that there will be opposition towards animal experimentation.

    • by alexhs ( 877055 )

      Kemonomimi, kawaii kemonomimi everywhere !!!

    • Re:It depends (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @04:59PM (#52174847)

      "I'm absolutely against it for organ harvesting!"

      As with use of CRISPR tech, this is our first nibbling at the edges of a technology that will involve a host of delicate ethical choices as applications emerge. But the easiest of these ethical questions to resolve in favor of "go for it" is surely having farm animals grow human organs for transplantation. Even vegetarians would be mostly in favor of such a lifesaving application - or to put it another way, those who oppose it would quickly select themselves out of the population.

      A pig could be engineered to grow, not just a human kidney, but your kidney, cloned from your body. No more having to spend the rest of your life on anti-rejection drugs, risking death with every sniffle and paper cut.

      • Re:It depends (Score:5, Interesting)

        by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @08:43PM (#52175917)
        We already use pigs for certain organ harvesting already.
        Where do you think most of those heart valve replacement 'donors' come from?
        All this would really do is increase the human viability of more tissues and organs.
        As to the brain, the porcine skull can't hold anything close to a human brain, and 'brain tissue' anywhere else would not be viable as a human brain either due to structural limitations, size, and vulnerability to damage from everyday actions. The human brain is on average 1320g, while a pig brain is only 180g. So the human brain is over 7 times the mass & volume. (I'm making a guess that their densities are relatively similar.)
        Sounds like more people afraid of more proof that humans are just a different kind of animal with specialization in generalized intelligence.
        • As to the brain, the porcine skull can't hold anything close to a human brain

          I doubt we will ever want to replace whole brains in the way we would a kidney or liver - the personality or 'soul' seems to mostly reside in the brain in the form of 'software' or 'firmware', whichever is the most appropriate analogy. Also, the brain is actually a large collection of distinct organs, some of which have functions not necessarily closely associated with mental processes. It may be viable to replace or augment a person's brain with smaller parts, which could then be integrated into and traine

      • "those who oppose it would quickly select themselves out of the population."

        Just to point out that this is not going to be true as most people wouldn't need organ replacement before reproducing.

        • You have a point, but I'm not claiming that political values are transmitted genetically. Rather, those who favor chimera transplants will be around longer as an influence in culture than the "naturalists." People who are still healthy enough to be tenured university faculty, influencing the young, will be the ones who avail themselves of advanced medical technology.

          The same is true of those who use vaccines and dental fluoride.

  • Ethics? (Score:5, Funny)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:24PM (#52174135) Homepage Journal

    If the problem is ethics, surely the solution would be to obtain military funding for this. A source of genetically engineered animal-human hybrids, combining the best features of both, would be invaluable to a modern military that needs new ways to fight a radically different type of enemy to that it was set up to do. The military could have at its disposal superhumans with animal senses, and at the same time push forward medical technology to benefit everyone.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:57PM (#52174439) Journal
      Actually my first concern would be about diseases. Does having animals with human-like organs inside them make it easier for diseases which affect that animal to mutate into a version which will infect humans? Since we are talking pigs the example that comes to mind immediately is something like swine flu.
      • OMG...I think you just posted the very first non-trollish post on this article. I commend you, I just don't have any mod points.

        And I agree with you. We already have animal to human diseases, does this build a better bridge giving way to even MORE potential strains?

      • These kind of chimeras are not necessary for this kind of risky situation, experimental animals are right now routinely "humanized" by modifying their genome in order for them to express human proteins, this makes the humanized animals susceptible to some human diseases and theoretically facilitates the appearance of pathogens that can now infect humans (specially viruses). The new chimeras of this post are actually safer since their offspring would not carry any human traits so they can't be mass produced.

      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        Swine flu can already infect humans, many human diseases can be transmitted to swine. I don't think this is a large problem and even if it were experimental scientists already have experience in breeding under strict controls - mice without immune system wouldn't live long otherwise.

      • zoonotic pathogens are a very real concern, and the mutation of endemic animal pathogens into strains able to infect pure human cell lines *HAS* been documented, and was documented nearly a decade ago.

        Specifically, early studies of mixed-culture embryos (an animal blastocyst that has had cloned human inner cell mass cells injected into it, along with the animal embryo's normal contents) resulted in unexpected results: In some cases, the resulting tissues were not just heterogenous admixtures of cell lineage

    • Watch season two of Dark Angel [imdb.com] to see how it turns out.

      • Either series will do, Max is a combination cat and human, she just looks human... (yes, I had Dark Angel in mind when writing the above but I suspect the underlying concept has been done by more than one author...)
    • Even if they weren't capable of fighting, simply having a ready source of replacement organs would be a huge boon to the military.

      • Why bother when the whole unit can be replaced? soldiers are mass produced at low cost by unskilled labor

        Or maybe we could stop waging wars of choice for power and profit against people that didn't attack us....

    • If the problem is ethics, surely the solution would be to obtain military funding for this. A source of genetically engineered animal-human hybrids, combining the best features of both, would be invaluable to a modern military that needs new ways to fight a radically different type of enemy to that it was set up to do. The military could have at its disposal superhumans with animal senses, and at the same time push forward medical technology to benefit everyone.

      What could possibly go wrong?

      I read a sci fi novel in the university library with precisely that premise back in 1996. Human-tiger hybrids for "supersoldiers", bunnygirls as their "comfort detachment."

      As I recall, it wasn't a particularly bad book, for pulp. Can't remember the author or title for the life of me.

    • Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine [wikipedia.org] in 1796, from cows.

      This was quite controversial at the time, because it involved injecting bits of cow into humans and... what could go wrong? Caricatures of the time [post-gazette.com] show cows "breaking out" of people after the cow vaccine was given.

      In religious terms, how ethical is it to inject humans with pieces derived from the lower animals? Didn't Jenner's vaccine meddle with God's great plan and pollute the integrity of the human form?

      Pure ethics can be based on suffering

  • by kwiecmmm ( 1527631 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:31PM (#52174209)

    Al Gore tried to warn us about ManBearPig, but no one would listen to him.

    ManBearPig [cc.com]

  • We made hybrid embryos decades ago. We're making new ones; for decades, we've been all weird about human embryos and have been restricted to a set of old embryonic lines and hybrids we made back then.

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:40PM (#52174291) Journal
    163.562 people died in 2014 due to wounds inflicted by other humans in armed conflicts around the world. 1.5 million children died in 2008 of vaccine-preventable disease and an estimated 3.5 million due to malnutrition. Considering the vast death and carnage that happens around the clock every single day, the idea that mixing genes in a test-tube is somehow dehumanizing to "our sense of humanity" is completely ludicrous
    • yea people tend to think there so awesome when its as you said we are no better then animals below us. the only difference is we learned to build things.we kill each other over simple greed.
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @04:24PM (#52174623) Journal
      And collectively human beings have never killed other human beings in such low levels ever in history. Get this human beings inherently violent, xenophobic and have gut level antipathy for everyone outside their extended family or clan. It is a great testament to the control of mind over instinct, they overcame this genetically wired violence and have peaceful, for the most part, by and large

      Focusing on the existing violence alone, and not putting it in proper context with historical trend lines is what called "making the perfect the enemy of the not-bad-and-its-getting-better".

      • Right now we are in a period of relative calm but this is could just be because turmoil and strife tend to be cyclical and we are not far removed from the 2 World Wars which are by far the greatest organized violence Humanity has ever inflicted on itself. In any case all of this has little bearing on the original context which was the perceived dehumanization of all humanity from the creation of Chimera genes
  • by mugnyte ( 203225 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:43PM (#52174303) Journal
    He couldn't get nearly this amount of press, and he's been customizing genes for a while now. [ted.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:43PM (#52174309)

    Screw half human half animal, i want half cat half dog. Loyalty of a dog yet only shits on other people's lawns!

  • by HumanWiki ( 4493803 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:48PM (#52174349)
    Sh*t... Al Gore was right!
  • Four legs good, two legs bad.

  • by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter@tedat a . n e t . eg> on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @03:53PM (#52174399) Journal

    We'll create this "human organ farm" deep underground and convince all the organisms that they're the world's last hope for survival. We'll explain that a nuclear war made the vast majority of the world too contaminated for life, but a lone island presents hope for survival. We'll convince them that we'll use a lottery to "randomly select" who to send to this "island". All the while, we'll keep them ignorant and secluded, distracting them with organizational tasks like mixing particular organic molecules together to help feed growing organism embryos, and entertaining them with VR live-action versions of X-Box video games. Then, as long as we keep them secluded in this "distraction-dystopia", we don't need to worry about their consciousness, right?

    • We'll create this "human organ farm" deep underground and convince all the organisms that they're the world's last hope for survival. We'll explain that a nuclear war made the vast majority of the world too contaminated for life, but a lone island presents hope for survival. We'll convince them that we'll use a lottery to "randomly select" who to send to this "island". All the while, we'll keep them ignorant and secluded, distracting them with organizational tasks like mixing particular organic molecules together to help feed growing organism embryos, and entertaining them with VR live-action versions of X-Box video games. Then, as long as we keep them secluded in this "distraction-dystopia", we don't need to worry about their consciousness, right?

      Jordan Two Delta was hot.

  • by suupaabaka ( 854944 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2016 @04:36PM (#52174689)
    I really want him to provide a definition of what a "sense of humanity" is, and apply it equally to a pool of well known individuals (Dalai Lama, Joseph Stalin, Charles Manson, Nelson Mandela) and try to avoid miring that definition in some sort of wishy-washy, mythical or biblical masturbation.
  • However, a number of bioethicists and scientists frown on the creation of interspecies embryos which they believe crosses the line.

    Oh, well that's easy to settle, if there's a line. And not just a line, but the line.

    Honestly, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Regard the line, people!

  • It's interesting that everyone but the person donating the organs gets something. The only reason there aren't enough organs is because of price controls. Allow people to sell organ futures and we would have plenty of organs for everyone that needs them.

  • From what little detail was in the article there on the Irritable Bowel Times, it sounds like they're talking about growing a normal wholly-human organ in wholly-"animal" pigs. (The pigs in this case being bred/modified just enough to not grow their own pigly pancreas, so that the human cells can form a human-compatible pancreas instead).

    This doesn't make the pigs "half-human, half animal" any more than Escherichia coli cells modified to produce human insulin protein are "half-human, half-bacteria" (or a

    • Oh, and to expand on this: a "chimera", in this context, means it's one organism with some cells that are genetically one organism and other cells that are genetically the other, not some sort of "genetic modification" that mixes genes from two different organisms. (If you were to breed the pigs referred to in this project, you'd get plain old pigs - who would presumably end up dying not too long after being born because they have no pancreas without the human [or, hypothetically, from some other organism]
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      It is most likely a state of mind, but it would generally be informed by our structure. Mostly brain structure, but other senses would play a role too.

      The consideration of a brain actually forming in this manner is potentially horrifying, though. Such a brain would have no external stimuli at all. Granted, it would not know what it is missing, but I believe the brain expects at least some low level input which it is unlikely to get as an internal growth in a distinct host organism.

      While I grant that it i

  • Stop it.. and start working on what all of us in the USA want...

    Make the CatDog.

    yes one end cat, one end dog... Give it to us!

  • All it will take is one person saved by just such an organ grown in an animal, and the idiot pundits and politicians will be swept aside like, what was that thing from the American writers class? Like a spider's legs in a roaring fire!

  • The sensations that come from our organs (other than the brain) profoundly influence our consciousness. Our mood, our thoughts, everything.
    What if our consciousness is not just centered in the brain but spread throughout the whole body?
    Do organs have their own consciousness that is a direct constituent of the highest-level consciousness of thought? Are there thoughts that you have that are a direct reflection of the sensation of a specific organ other than the ears, eyes, nose, and tongue?

    People are trained

    • by Pikoro ( 844299 )

      Do organs have their own consciousness that is a direct constituent of the highest-level consciousness of thought?

      No.

  • For billions of years on earth, every life form has endured discomfort and unpleasantness. Some evolved in a new, more efficient form, others were left behind. The process continues today and includes humans. Individuals of every species can expect difficulties and the strongest will carry on the genes. Humans have anointed some species protected- meat & dairy animals, domestic pets; and others condemned- experimental animals, disease carriers. Human individuals continue to suffer unpleasantness in many

  • I want to die.

  • Frankly, I'm anti-nationalism and I don't really feel that I need to be superior to animals. I am quite sure that my humanity is something that enables me to do many things and thankfully keeps me at the top of the food chain. I honestly have no ethical issues with what they're attempting to accomplish beyond this...

    1) How many animals would they need to raise, maintain, etc... to build a "warehouse" of organs to ensure that when they are needed a "match" can be found? Wouldn't this require insanely massive
  • Stuart Newman calls the use of chimeras as entering unsettling ground which damages "our sense of humanity."

    You know what damages people's sense of humanity even more? Dying miserably even though modern medical technology could make you well, because some prick called Stuart Newman takes the position that a pig is more important than a human or thinks that a human kidney somehow gives a pig a soul.

  • by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Wednesday May 25, 2016 @07:03AM (#52177611)
    The morality wizards are at it again. " Our sense of humanity" is so abstract that it can not be damaged. I doubt that there is much agreement at all on what our sense of humanity is. What moral wizards actually do is get attention, power, and positions for themselves. Yes, a pig could acquire a sense of self. But that pig need not know fear or know about death at all. Put the pig to sleep covertly and harvest what is needed from the pig. That pig could have a very happy life. Meanwhile you just might save millions of human lives with the parts and processes derived from these chimeras. So what kind of balance scale does one need to weigh a human life against "our sense of humanity"? Well "our sense of humanity"has zero weight on a balance beam. Hopefully even one human being has real weight.
  • Is growing human organs even a new thing? There certainly is already cross species blending of genetics.

    The objection to this seems like it comes from a time when people didn't know we were just another of the animals lucky enough to have thumbs, the physical requirements for auditory speech, and a brain capable of utilizing those things. Animals, even those of lesser intelligence than humans (which is not all, some are believed to even have superior intelligence) are known to have consciousness. Only a hum

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.

Working...