Scientists have managed to successfully produce monkey embryos that contain and can grow human cells as part of research to discover a reliable means of growing human organs for transplants.
Bioethicists, however, are raising the alarm as the mountain of implications of this kind of scientific development looms on the horizon.
In the study, NPR reported, 25 cells known as induced pluripotent human stem cells, i.e. iPS cells, were injected into macaque monkey embryos. This species shares more genetic information with humans than sheep or pigs.
The researchers observed that after one day, they could detect human cells growing in 132 of the embryos, which they were able to study for up to 19 days to learn more about how animal cells and human cells communicate. The scientists say this is all for the sake of finding new ways to grow organs to be transplanted into humans, something which has yet to successfully attempted.
“My first question is: Why?” said one scientist who spoke with NPR.
Well, according to researchers involved in what many would easily understandably characterize as a “freak experiment,” the reason was entirely well-intentioned.
“This is one of the major problems in medicine — organ transplantation,” explained Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, of the Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, Calif., who co-authored the study, published in the medical journal Cell last week.
“The demand for that is much higher than the supply,” he said.
Case Western Reserve and Harvard University bioethicist Insoo Hyun agreed.
“I don’t see this type of research being ethically problematic,” he said plainly, pointing to the goals of the project. “It’s aimed at lofty humanitarian goals.”
Kirstin Matthews, a fellow for science and technology at Rice University’s Baker Institute, however, the scientist who wondered aloud with no doubt countless concerned citizens as to “why” the development of a chimera was needful to address human organ failure, had more pressing questions.
“I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we’re just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do,” she told NPR.
“Should it be regulated as human because it has a significant proportion of human cells in it? Or should it be regulated just as an animal? Or something else?” she also said
“At what point are you taking something and using it for organs when it actually is starting to think and have logic?”
It is no wonder society is breaching these questions—living human embryos are destroyed each and every day in this nation and, as has been extensively documented, their organs are harvested and used for research.
It is chilling to think of a monkey-human hybrid and its potential to think and reason—but we’ve already established an unborn baby’s humanity.
Mankind will never profit from playing God, especially when it systematically destroys so many of the tiny beings made in His image before they can even be born.
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