Of Mice and Men, Chimera, and the Stem Cell Issue

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Chimera (genetics)

From Wikipedia

Chimeras in research

In biological research, chimeras are artificially produced by physically mixing cells from two different organisms. Chimeras are not hybrids, […] (like a donkey and a horse) that form a single zygote that will develop as much as it can (in this case into a live mule […]);

in comparison, chimeras are the physical mixing of cells from two independent zygotes:

for example, one from the donkey and one from the horse. “Chimera” is a broad term and is often applied to many different types of mixing of cells from two different species.

Some chimeras can result in the eventual development of an adult animal composed of cells from both donors, which may be of different species – for example, in 1984 a chimeric geep was produced by combining embryos from a goat and a sheep.[8]


Mouse chimeras  …

Mouse chimeras

Chimeric mice are important tools in biological research, as they allow the investigation of a variety of biological questions in an animal that has two distinct genetic pools within it. These include insights into such problems as the tissue specific requirements of a gene, cell lineage, and cell potential.



[…] In the United States as well, a heated discussion rages on whether human stem cells should be allowed in the creation of chimeras. At times this has become a religious issue, with several politicians arguing that it is against Judeo-Christian beliefs.

And as the stem cell argument frequently boils down to:

Do Humans have the right to harvest parts from other Humans?

Do Humans have the right to play God?

Or the one that appeals to me:

Are corporate-funded Scientists, smart enough, or safe enough,

to avoid creating a modern day version of Frankenstein?

GMO-foods anyone?  

Parts-R-Us, pull right up?

Now I’m all for intelligent, humane, Stem Cell research —

especially when those efforts are directed, at actually curing Human afflictions —

like Parkinson’s Disease:

60% Parkison’s Patients Improve after Repair of Stem Cell Treatment

Physicans Confirm Results!

from The Stem Cell Blog, David Granovsky — February 6, 2010

It would really be a shame if Science success stories like this one, end up being eclipsed by Science “Scare Tactics” along the line of Human-Mouse Hybrids, with Human Brains

Unfortunately, Fear works — especially with Low-info Voters,

AND some of this stuff IS kind of scary, especially when the Palin-lite Wantabees discard any context of all that Sciency stuff:

Mouse With Human Brain May Live

By Bill Christensen — Feb 17 2005

Animals have been getting a real work-out in science lately. Methuselah mice are helping humanity with aging, pigs are trying artificial corneas and monkeys get gene manipulations that force them to work hard with no thought of reward.

Now, Stanford University has given famed researcher Irving Weissman permission to create a mouse-human hybrid. The intent is to inject human brain cells into the brains of developing mice to see what happens. The National Academy of Sciences will unveil guidelines on chimera and stem cell research this spring.


Besides the Methuselah mouse example mentioned earlier, rat neurons in a dish are being taught how to fly planes; and hairless mice have been used to grow human ears:

Can anyone say Ewwwwh!

Why in the world, would they do that?

Good Question.  Maybe Mice want to become Bach fans?

(or maybe someone, actually needs an Ear Transplant ???)

The potential is quite awesome, and quite fearful, as well.

We would be wise to remain cautious, and watchful, of the genetic research (and break-throughs) occurring in Bio-Labs around the world.  Genetics is moving at a rapid pace.

We would also be wise to lend the Topic,  … an Ear:

Of Mice, Men and In-Between

Scientists Debate Blending Of Human, Animal Forms  (Chimera)

By Rick Weiss, Washington Post — Nov 20, 2004

In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins.

In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human.

In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls.

These are not outcasts from “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal and part human. They are real creations of real scientists, stretching the boundaries of stem cell research.


“This is an area where we really need to come to a reasonable consensus,” said James Battey, chairman of the National Institutes of Health’s Stem Cell Task Force. “We need to establish some kind of guidelines as to what the scientific community ought to do and ought not to do.”

4-out-of-5 Scientist agree … We DO need more guidelines, in this Brave New “Chimera” World, or so one would hope.

NOW, I enjoy a good laugh at the expense of 1-dimensional Teabagger Politicians as the next person — BUT be careful about running that “Of Mice and Men” Meme, TOO far into the ground.

Because behind the latest humorous Teabagger “word salad”

is a horrific veiled slam against the spooky specter of (gasp!) Stem-Cell research.

May the Tea-brainers, NOT get the last laugh, on this one.  (I hope not.)

Neither Politics nor Science, should be a laughing matter.

Both march on, despite of our best intentions, hopes and dreams.

We can try to catch the latest wave, or let it pass us by.

and just learn to live with its fallout, whatever it may be …

The Choice, is still, ours. … for now, anyways.


Skip to comment form

    • jamess on September 17, 2010 at 20:33

    Lend me an ear

    Mark Antony, from Julius Caesar

    • Edger on September 17, 2010 at 20:59

    grow a human brain in Christine O’Donnell?

  1. I thought the problem was that Christine O’Donnell had a mouse brain — perhaps acquired through Lamarckian evolution from watching too many episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club.

  2. …. is being done in many cases, outside the country to hide what the hell they are doing to the plants and animals.

    People don’t want to eat GMO foods.  Given a choice, they will usually select the non GMO variety.

    We are really losing ground with this, under this administration.

    The Supreme Court is a disaster in this regard.  They’ve been bought off. Perhaps you’ve seen Clarence Thomas’ wife doing Tea Party speeches.

    The lobbyists for Cargill, Monsanto, Big Ag and Big Pharma are doing the Big Blowoff and blithely assuring the public that the results of their experiments are “harmless.”

    This is why the Democrats like candidates who don’t sound coherent, because it makes them look so Very Smart.  They can point and say, see, this Tea Baggie ditz doesn’t like it. Therefore, it must be good.

    It is much more complex than that.

    These companies don’t do it for “good,” they do it for profit.  “Good” is irrelevant when there is money to be made.

    Monsanto, with their terminator seeds, is pure fvcking evil.  

    The real danger lies in mixing proteins of various foods into others, with GMO engineering, and then this gets into the general supply,  uncontrolled, which means that foods that were not allergenic become that way.  This would, of course, have horrible consequences.

    Are people with food allergies and intolerances relevant enough to the conversation, or are they just destined to be collateral damage ?


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