Scientists Make Astonishing Breakthrough With “Chimera” Embryos

Scientists Make Astonishing Breakthrough With

( – Chimeras are fire-breathing monsters in Greek mythology that are part lion, goat, and dragon. In modern genetics, a chimera is a hybrid living organism containing at least two sets of DNA. Typically, they originate from the fusion of multiple fertilized eggs.

The Scientific Journal Cell published a brief overview of a study on April 15 involving the creation of embryos containing cells from both humans and monkeys — an experimental test chimera. The scientists injected human stem cells into monkey embryos and developed at least 3 that survived 19 days after fertilization.

Scientists created the embryos to develop strategies for a variety of “regenerative applications” using live specimens. In simple terms, a group of scientists is experimenting with half-human and half-monkey embryos in hopes of creating tissues and organs for transplantation into ailing humans.

Scientists have conducted studies using mouse and pig embryos, but the necessary stem cells produced don’t contribute to chimera formation as effectively as a species in the same evolutionary chain as humans.

Ethical Concerns

As one might expect, the study is already raising concerns. Kirstin Matthews, a science and technology fellow at Rice University, warned that “the public is going to be concerned” regarding the question of what scientists “should or should not do.”

MSN reported that animal-human hybrids have long been the subject of controversy. Nature reported that many developmental scientists question the practice of experimenting with primates related to humans. Among other concerns, nonhuman primates are protected by strict ethics rules.

Additionally, many scientists believe experimentation with lower-level organisms could prove useful information, offsetting the obvious questions regarding mixing animal and human DNA.

Supporters of the project point out that thousands of individuals die in the United States while waiting for a suitable organ for transplant.

Ultimately, the operative question remains a simple one. Do the ends justify the means? And if science supports this kind of experimentation today, what can humankind expect tomorrow?

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