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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?



A Monkey Circles in a Cageby Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesJanuary 29th, 2016Researchers created transgenic monkeys with a gene duplication associated with Rett Syndrome autism in humans, raising concerns of the limits and ethics of using animal models in biomedical research.
Human Genetic Alteration and Gold Mines: California's Stem Cell Agency Takes a Hard Look at Research Standardsby David JensenCalifornia Stem Cell ReportJanuary 27th, 2016The $3 billion California stem cell agency will convene a livestreamed day-long meeting to examine agency policies dealing with human gene editing.
Will creating monkeys with autism-like symptoms be any use?by Sam WongNew ScientistJanuary 25th, 2016Researchers are divided on whether a condition like autism can be meaningfully reproduced in monkeys.
Human-Animal Chimeras Are Gestating on U.S. Research Farmsby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewJanuary 6th, 2016A radical new approach to generating human organs is to grow them inside pigs or sheep.
Move Over, Jony Ive Biologists Are the Next Rock Star Designersby Liz StinsonWIREDNovember 18th, 2015A biotech startup that calls itself an "organism design foundry" and works with designers and artists is part of a US bioeconomy that already generates $350 billion annually.
Should Human Stem Cells Be Used To Make Partly Human Chimeras?by Rob SteinNPRNovember 6th, 2015The NIH has declared a moratorium on research that puts human stem cells into nonhuman animal embryos.
DNA At the Fringes: Twins, Chimerism, and Synthetic DNAby Erin E. MurphyThe Daily BeastOctober 7th, 2015DNA tests are thought to be conclusive, but our genetic material acts in mysterious ways. Chimerism, for example, may "undermine the very basis of the forensic DNA system."
Surgeons Smash Records with Pig-to-Primate Organ Transplantsby Antonio RegaladoMIT Technology ReviewAugust 12th, 2015A biotech company is genetically engineering pigs so that their organs might work in people.
"Jurassic World" and the Dinosaurs at the USDAby Rachel SmolkerTruthoutJune 22nd, 2015The regulations of the US Department of Agriculture are in desperate need of an overhaul if they are to protect the public from the derailing of billions of years of evolution for the purpose of corporate profit-making.
Human DNA Enlarges Mouse Brainsby Elizabeth PennisiScienceFebruary 19th, 2015Researchers have increased the size of mouse brains by giving the rodents a piece of human DNA that controls gene activity.
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