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About Hybrids & Chimeras


Hybrid animals are created when gametes (reproductive cells) from different species join to form a single embryo. A mule, for example, is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Every cell in the body of hybrids contains genetic material from both parents.

Chimeras, named after creatures from Greek mythology, are created artificially by combining genetic material from different species into a single embryo. The adult animals that develop have different populations of cells that reflect different contributions from the species from which they were produced. Scientists have created the geep, for example, by combining genetic material from both a goat and a sheep.

Partially human hybrid embryos have been created by fusing human cells and animal eggs, and partially human chimeric embryos have been created by injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos. Most scientists want to produce such embryos only for research, and oppose experiments that would allow human-animal chimeras to be brought to term.

The prospect of human-animal chimeras troubles many people and raises troubling questions about their moral and legal status. Would a human-animal chimera have human rights? Could it be patented and owned? What if it were 99.9% human and 0.1% chimpanzee? What of the reverse situation?



With New Program, DARPA To Encourage Safety "Brakes" For Gene Editingby Alex LashXconomyOctober 5th, 2016The US military R&D agency has launched a funding program called "Safe Genes" to find "safety measures that don’t slow us down."
Human-Animal Chimeras and Dehumanizationby John H. EvansOxford University Press BlogOctober 1st, 2016Should we create chimeras like pigs with human qualities? How we talk about humans during this debate may inadvertently change how we look at ourselves.
Human Chimera Research’s Huge (and Thorny) Potentialby Paul KnoepflerWiredSeptember 19th, 2016A stem cell researcher notes a range of tough bioethical questions on the table if the NIH moves forward with lifting its research ban.
US government may fund research to combine human cells and animal cellsAssociated Foreign PressAugust 5th, 2016Stuart Newman asks: What if we have pigs with human brains and they are wondering why we are doing experiments on them? What about human bodies with animal brains? Could we harvest organs from them?
NIH Plans To Lift Ban On Research Funds For Part-Human, Part-Animal Embryosby Rob SteinNPRAugust 4th, 2016Concerns include the inadvertent creation of animals with partly human brains, endowing them with some semblance of human consciousness or human thinking abilities. (Public comment until September 4.)
Organ research scientists combine human stem cells and pig DNAby Kevin Rawlinson & Nicola DavisThe GuardianJune 6th, 2016Safety and ethical questions accompany efforts by researchers to grow human organs for transplants inside pigs.
On Cyborgs and Gene Editing: Lessons from Orphan Blackby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical Times guest contributorJune 1st, 2016The television show takes a cue from science fiction author Donna Haraway and engages the dangers of human genetic modification.
In Search For Cures, Scientists Create Embryos That Are Both Animal And Humanby Rob SteinNPRMay 18th, 2016"You're getting into unsettling ground that I think is damaging to our sense of humanity."
In IVF, Questions About ‘Mosaic’ Embryosby Kira PeikoffThe New York TimesApril 18th, 201620% of embryos have both "normal" and "abnormal" cells, generating false positive genetic test results, and questions among fertility clinics about whether to implant.
CRISPR patent belongs to aliensby Sara ReardonNatureFebruary 29th, 2016Returning with a new season after over a decade, The X Files uses technologies like CRISPR gene editing to tell stories at the intersection of science, politics, and conspiracy theories.
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