Scientists at the Salk Institute in California have created a part-human, part-pig embryo. Bioethicist Arthur Caplan told us about the ethical concerns involved in mixing human and animal DNA.
An experiment reported on Thursday in Cell, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, announced a purported breakthrough in bioengineering: the successful creation of an embryo with both human and pig DNA (and to be clear, the artwork above is just a photo of a sculpture). The results, “raise the possibility of xeno-generating transplantable human tissues and organs towards addressing the worldwide shortage of organ donors,” according to the paper. But while the embryo was only allowed to develop for a few days, the genesis of this early-stage creature revives an uncomfortable debate about whether animal-human hybrids are, well, horrifying monsters waiting to happen.
In November 2015, shortly after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) put a hold on its own experiments that combined human and animal cells, the federal government hosted a meeting of the minds to discuss that very question. More specifically, the NIH feared “the specter of an intelligent mouse stuck in a laboratory somewhere screaming ‘I want to get out,” NIH ethicist David Resnik, told Technology Review magazine. Read more >>>
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