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Japan Has Approved Plans to Develop the World’s First Humanimals
In a controversial move, a committee from Japan’s sciene ministry has recently approved scientist’s request to grow human cells with animal embryos, which will results in a human-animal chimera.
“Researchers have previously created human-animal embryos, such as sheep and pig embryos with human cells, but those pregnancies were terminated after a few days or weeks. This experiment aims to eventually bring chimera embryos to term, resulting in the birth of real, living, breathing humanimals.” (Gizmodo)
The team behind this plans to engineer rodent embryos that are unable to grow their own pancreases, putting human stem cells to help them develop a pancreas from the human cells. They then plan to transplant the embryos into adult rodents, growing them to near-term for the immediate future, before pursuing a full live-birth later down the line.
There are many ethical issues around what this could lead to, especially with the possibility of human cells reaching the brain. The team have said they will halt their work should that happen, though it still leaves the ethics of harvesting human organs from animals. It’s a grey area, and one that scientists like lead researcher Hiromitsu Nakauchi and his team will have to navigate carefully.
Developments like this and CRISPR’s gene editing offer incredible scientific developments in terms of medicine and human healthcare, but many of the avenues to success involve questionable work. Earlier this year, we wrote about CRISPR twins born in China, who may have inadvertently had their brains enhanced.
Will this type of work lead to a section of our population able to afford to upgrade and enhance themselves and their children? What would a sect of essentially super or peak humans mean for the world and humans in general? There are a lot of questions to answer and bleak futures to avoid.
I just hope as scientists work on these types of projects, they consider the outcomes all the way to the end of their work.
Do you agree? Disagree? Share your comments below.