For the first time, scientists have created embryos that are a mix of human and monkey cells.
The embryos, described Thursday in the journal Cell, were created in part to try to find new ways to produce organs for people who need transplants, said the international team of scientists who collaborated in the work. But the research raises a variety of concerns.
“My first question is: Why?” said Kirstin Matthews, a fellow for science and technology at Rice University’s Baker Institute. “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.”
Still, the scientists who conducted the research, and some other bioethicists defended the experiment.
“This is one of the major problems in medicine — organ transplantation,” said Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla and a co-author of the Cell study. “The demand for that is much higher than the supply.”
“I don’t see this type of research being ethically problematic,” said Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University and Harvard University. “It’s aimed at lofty humanitarian goals.”
Thousands of people die every year in the United States waiting for an organ transplant, Hyun noted. So, in recent years, some researchers in the U.S. and beyond have been injecting human stem cells into sheep and pig embryos to see if they might eventually grow human organs in such animals for transplantation.
But so far, that approach hasn’t worked. So Belmonte teamed up with scientists in China and elsewhere to try something different. The researchers injected 25 cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells from humans — commonly called iPS cells — into embryos from macaque monkeys, which are much more closely genetically related to humans than are sheep and pigs.
After one day, the researchers reported, they were able to detect human cells growing in 132 of the embryos and were able study the embryos for up to 19 days. That enabled the scientists to learn more about how animal cells and human cells communicate, an important step toward eventually helping researchers find new ways to grow organs for transplantation in other animals, Belmonte said.
“This knowledge will allow us to go back now and try to re-engineer these pathways that are successful for allowing appropriate development of human cells in these other animals,” Belmonte told NPR. “We are very, very excited.”
Such mixed-species embryos are known as chimeras, named for the fire-breathing creature from Greek mythology that is part lion, part goat and part snake.
“Our goal is not to generate any new organism, any monster,” Belmonte said. “And we are not doing anything like that. We are trying to understand how cells from different organisms communicate with one another….”
The above comes from an April 15 story on NPR.
Hmm… at what point would a hybrid human/other species embryo not have a rational soul? How much non-human genetic material can be intermingled with human DNA before it is mere animal and no longer rational or spiritual? Yes, I know that the soul is spiritual. But human beings are created in petri dishes, and a spiritual being results from that artificial method of combining genetic material. When you start experimenting with intermingling genetic material from human and non-human species, splicing human DNA into animal DNA or vice-versa, at what point would the created hybrid being be a new species that isn’t human?
An organism that is an unintegrated combination of human and non-human cells that interact, instead of being a hybrid, would clearly not be rational. I believe that is what this research has accomplished.
This should concern everyone.
There’s nothing unethical about it. They aren’t creating a man-bear-pig. They’re testing how human cells and monkey cells interact with the intent to determine if human organs can be grown inside a monkey. What’s wrong with that? If you’re concerned about it, you don’t understand it. It’s merely preliminary research into using animals to grow and harvest human organs, which could be transplanted into humans.
You do know what an embryo is?
You do know it’s a monkey embryo with some human pluripotent stem cells injected?
In China, scientists have experimented with these human-monkey hybrid embryos. But they don’t live very long– few can make it past even a couple of weeks. This goes totally against God’s Creation, and is not “meant to be.” American scientists who cannot get grants to do this type of immoral “research,” go to China and do it there. A Stanford University. bioethicist calls it “outsourcing ethics.” Scientists worldwide are worried about the lax moral and ethical standards in their field.
Yes, the eleventh paragraph of the article clearly states that it is a “mixed species embryo”, meaning part human and part animal.
And yet you are ok with aborted babies being used for vaxx research and production. Selective outrage on your part. YFC, you cannot be trusted.
Dear Hypocrite: I am not ok with aborted babies being used for vaccine research and production. Where did you get that idea?
From you and your wish that all involved at mass be vaccinated. Unborn babied were killed to get those vaccines, a moral outrage you deny even happened. You are untrustworthy when it comes to upholding Catholic morality, everyone needs to be warned off from you.
Absolutely not true. No unborn babies were killed to get any of these vaccines. That is actually a lie.
The most commonly used vaccines used in the USA are not even grown in any kind of cells. They are chemically synthesized. Apparently at one point, they tested the vaccines in cell lines derived from fetal tissue from an embryo that died dozens of years ago. But no fetuses were killed in order to conduct those tests.
Over a half million actual American Humans have died due to the pandemic. We can save many thousands more. If we only understand where actual lives of human beings are at stake.
Lies. It was not just one aborted fetus years ago. The exploitation of dead babies continues to this day. Talk about real numbers, over 60 Million babies aborted in America since that horrific practice was legalized here. Covid deaths pale by comparison.
Excuse me, but you have no evidence to back up your lies. 60 million abortions have ZERO to do with COVID vaccines. Can you not wrap your head around the difference? No babies were aborted to create the mRNA vaccines. NONE.
Half a million adult Americans have died in the last year – over 3 million worldwide – over what is now preventable because of a chemically synthesized vaccine that never sees the inside of any kind of human cell whatsoever.
Your Fellow Catholic, ever hear of Advanced Science Bios? They are currently selling aborted baby parts to labs here in America. Don’t be fooled these vaccinations are using these cell lines and doing much worse. And u.s. tax dollars are paying for those baby parts.
Ever heard of the truth, anonymous? No fetal cells are used in the development or production of the mRNA vaccines. What other labs do doesn’t taint these life-saving vaccines. Please be pro-life. Get vaccinated. Tell the truth.
Dr. Moreau is back.
I am very, very scared.
This is morally wrong! Extremely abusive to Nature, and to God’s designs and plans, in His Creation! “Frankenstein”-false “science!” Also, as these kinds of “Frankenstein”-type “creatures” ” were never meant to be, from the designing hand of God– I doubt if the “creatures” could fully develop into anything — at some point, the abnormal “creature” would collapse and die, as they are not “meant to be” — this unnatural “concoction” is all wrong! And the “organs” produced by this freak, immoral “science” are a total fraud– and will not work right, as they are not “meant to be,” by God! Scientists should not abuse Nature, and there ought to be strict laws prohibiting such horrific abuse, exploitation, and harm to animals, and use of such unnatural, “Frankenstein”-type “gimmicks”– to interfere with God’s plans for the human body! Do not put a weird “Frankenstein”-type organ into a human being! This is immoral, a mortal sin, and will wreak havoc on God’s Creation! Human beings have already severely wrecked our planetary home, with their many bad “scientific” exploits. There needs to be strict laws to put an end to these evils!
Was medicine never designed to be from God? Humans had to create the chemical compounds. Were human technological advances never meant to be by God? Should humans do nothing to actualize the inherent potencies that God placed in nature at creation? Your rant against knowledge and advancement is the sort that gives Christians a bad rep. There’s no basis for your claims that future discoveries and creations will be unstable or won’t work. People thought we’d never go to the moon either.
Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be.
Anyone who thumbs down that post is anti-science.
I gave an accidental thumbs up when I meant to give a thumbs down to Anonymous’ post on April 18, 2021 at 6:07 pm.
It is not just Christians who are against such procedures. Life begins at conception, whether anonymous likes it or not, and human embryos contain everything needed to grow a human person,. Anonymous must think it all right for another “scientist” to amputate one of his essential parts, sell it and use it on another person.
You go first Anonymous. That would show just how “scientific” you are.
Gosh, the willful ignorance is appalling. There were no human embryos. Human cells were experimentally inserted into a monkey embryo. Read, people.
Where did they get the human stem cells that they injected into the animal embryos? Did they get them from human embryos fertilized in petri dishes or aborted children, both of which are unethical means. It is ethical to inject stem cells from miscarriages, since there is no direct killing, and from adults who give their permission if it will not cause their death, into another human, but not into animals. They ARE creating the beginning of a monster whether they say they want to or not.
Another thing, I was not threatening any scientist in my post. I was just making the point that if I thought the way some of them do and was surrounded with other like minded scientists, I would watch my back since one of them might decide to do a little “experimentation'” on me.
No, Anonymous. Read your Catechism. You sound ignorant of Christian morality. Human beings must respect God’s Creation, and must always abide by a moral and ethical code, in all they do. It is not “advancement,” to do wrong and immoral things with your profession, Anonymous. For example– it is certainly not “scientific advancement,” to evilly arrange Planned Parenthood abortions, to optimally harvest baby body parts, so you can sell them for optimal profit, to evil “researchers” with no morals. Hitler’s evil “scientists” performed many horrible “scientific experiments” on Jews– no morals nor ethics! Want to buy a lampshade from a monster like Hitler– made of a Jew’s flesh– and call that “scientific advancement in lampshade-making?” So-called “science” has been practiced evilly by many– do not worship the “god of “science,” nor the “god of knowledge”– worship only God! Not all “knowledge” nor “science” is good, nor morally right with God. So-called “modern science” has done much evil to our planet, along with the good. Chemicals in our food, air and water are a great danger. Someday– our planet also could risk a total annihilation– due to the evils of chemical warfare, nuclear warfare, etc. etc. Worship only God– not the “god of science.”
Nobody has demonstrated that the research is unethical. Human cells are not human beings. Testing how human cells interact with monkey cells is not immoral because no human being is being mistreated. You people fear what you don’t understand and rashly form conclusion based on a headline. You’re the one who is ignorant.
And you probably think it would be wrong to implant a Neuralink chip into a paralyzed human being to enable him to function more normally. Nope. God made him paralyzed or God’s providence allowed him to become paralyzed, so no science to help. Just leave things the way God made them.
No, Anonymous. We don’t simply “leave things the way we ignorantly guess that God made them.” We act like intelligent, responsible adults, with a grown-up moral conscience, when we go to work each day, and carry out our professional duties.
That sure isn’t evident from the comments made here.
Now we are creating the “Sub-human”.
God created subhumans. They’re called animals.
Animals are animals. They are not “sub-human.” No such thing exists. Two different species.
Animals are below humans in the metaphysical chain of being. “Sub” means below. “Subhuman” means below human. That’s what animals are. As such, they do exist.
No, Anonymous. Animals are not “below humans,” or “below” anything– you have a subjective bias. Aninals are animals. Humans are humans. And some animals are far better than humans!
“Belmonte! What the Devil are you doing?”
“Just monkeying around in the Lab.”
The ignorance and fear coming from Catholics on this story are lamentable. What’s next? Saying evolution and the Big Bang are false?
This is a Catholic website. You need respect for God and for the Catholic Faith. It is well-known, that the Big Bang and evolution are theories, not facts. Do not worship “man’s knowledge” and
“man’s science.” Man’s mistakes and “man’s follies” in all fields of knowledge, including his “science,” can be very sinful and lethal– and can lead to vast destructions! Man needs to humble himself before God– and worship only God!
As I thought. A biblical literalist.
Nothin’ wrong with that.
Yes there is, because the Catechism teaches that biblical literalism is wrong.
Anonymous April 20,2021 at 8:20 am
Could you please provide the citation?
No, Anonymous. A follower of Christ believes in and lives by Christian morals and ethics, and is very responsible, with a good moral conscience. Good idea, for you to do likewise.
it’s gratifying to know that man has evolved to the point wherein he now can engineer his own devolution.
The ease with which misinformation about this is believed and spread is horrifying. Do you all believe in QAnon too?
I am too old for the highly destructive “radical baloney” that some immature, unstable “fruitcake” California young people get into today, like these sick 1960s hippie-leftist political activist movements, on the extreme right or left– and so-called “Qanon,” or whatever it is. Bunch of radical, immature garbage, to me.
didn’t notice this article being about QAnon.
replacing a monkey with a red herring?
et Q Brute` ?
My first full-time job was at Salk in a lab right next to Dr. Belmonte’s. I found him to be a very caring and generous man.
But without proper boundaries, even caring and generosity can become downfalls.
Well, what kind of professional standards of morality and ethics does this man operate by? That is the question. I think there needs to be strong laws against highly immoral and destructive “mad scientist work.” If you are Catholic, you must abide by Christ’s professional standards of morals and ethics. It doesn’t matter if the abortion doctor or the Nazi gas chamber operator to kill Jews is “nice.” Maybe some CCP officials who are involved in brainwashing, torture, rape, and sterilization of Muslim Uyghurs are “nice,” to their wives and children, at home, “off-the-job.” What about their lost moral consciences?
This is the face of evil. Nice smile this Devil has. Maybe he should adopt one of these humanized monkeys.
So we justify growing Organs in monkeys to harvest them? To so called save lives. How about accepting death and the circle of life. People’s fear of dying and their quest for never ending knowledge will most definitely end the human race. All life is precious and should be respected, but not at the expense of other animals or species. Sad to see this is not being put to a stop immediately. Only god knows what the Chinese are experimenting with in labs in China. I suspect the coronavirus escaped a lab there infecting the world population. For everyone reading these posts, please be aware the U.S government years ago aerosolized rabies in a lab. They did this after cavers went spelunking in a West Texas cave system and contracted rabies without ever having been bitten. After close investigation the cavers were found to have breathed in condensed bat urine as it evaporated, causing them to all contract rabies. The reason I’m sharing this is to inform you of the lack of boundaries are own government has and I feel confident even more scarier things are happening we are unaware of.