Some may ask, "What is a chimera?" Think: Chewbacca.
Remember Hans Solo's sidekick in Star Wars? His Wookiee friend resembled a human, but obviously had other species' dna— Maybe from a lion or dog? A chimera is "an individual, organ or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution" (Merriam-Webster).
Some research centers located in the U.S. are experimenting to incubate organs in farm animals by adding human pluripotent cells to animal embryos, thus creating chimeras.
Human embryonic stem (ES) cells are pluripotent, that is, they are able to differentiate into many types of cells, while adult stem cells are more stable, permitting better research work and outcomes. Please see the Stem Cell page on KRLA's website for info on why prolifers object to ES cell research.
The funding for such research is currently from state agencies or private sources.
The National Institutes of Health (an agency of the US Dept. of Health & Human Services) declared a funding moratorium last September on any research to create chimeras prior to the "gastrulation" stage.
Because of the already ongoing experiments, the NIH is revisiting the issue of funding experiments where:
- human pluripotent cells are introduced into non-human vertebrate embryos, up through the end of gastrulation stage, with the exception of non-human primates, which would only be considered after the blastocyst stage, or
- human cells are introduced into post-gastrulation non-human mammals (excluding rodents), where there could be either a substantial contribution or a substantial functional modification to the animal brain by the human cells.
To determine public sentiment, the NIH began seeking public comment last month on August 4. This window for commenting was to close on September 6 (2016) but appears to remain open. So, comment!
Did we ever think the work of Right to Life would include objecting to chimera creation? !
Some may say we are opposed to "medical breakthroughs that could save countless human lives, such as the ability to grow human organs that could be used to save the lives of patients in need of transplants."
We are in favor of medical breakthroughs that result from adult stem cell research and therapies! We are opposed to the destruction of human embryos because life begins at conception.
We agree with many of the commenters on the NIH website. The comment below does not touch on the issue of destroying a human embryo to gain the ES cells for the experiment, but it has good points:
"This comment is directed specifically to Francis Collins, Director of the NIH: ...This is profoundly disturbing as this new line of research... involves placing human cells into an animal embryo at the very earliest stage, when it is a sphere of just a dozen cells in a laboratory dish. This process of "embryo complementation", is significant because the human cells can multiply, specialize, and potentially contribute to any part of the animal's body as it develops. What if the contribution of human cells contributed to 100% of the brain? What if the embryo that develops is mostly human? ..."
"It is wrong to mix man's DNA because God created man in His own image."
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