For the first time in history, scientists have been given permission to make human-animal hybrids. The Japanese research government has allowed the creation of these chimeras, known as humanimals. Researchers intend to create animal embryos that contain human cells and bring them to term. If the experiments are successful, scientists will be able to produce human organs in rats or mice!
Hiromitsu Nakauchi, the principal researcher, and his specialist team are finally ready to undertake investigations in this sector after ten years of preparation. Humanimal embryos had previously been developed, with sheep or pig embryos carrying human cells, but their pregnancies were terminated within a few days or weeks. A living humanimal has yet to be discovered. With technological advancements, it is expected that they would soon be able to generate humanimal embryos and nurture them to full term, producing a living humanimal.
What’s the point of all of this?
The goal of this experiment is not to create animal-human chimeras (like in the musical Cats) or to give people the option of acquiring animal qualities. Researchers believe that one day scientists may be able to grow human organs inside animals for use in organ transplants. There are 114,000 patients on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant in the United States alone.
Researchers will begin by creating rodent embryos that are unable to develop their own pancreas. They will next inject human stem cells into the embryos, hoping that the embryos will produce pancreas from human cells. They eventually intend to grow transplantable organs in larger animals, such as pigs, which they already have the capability to slaughter.
What is the procedure? A humanoid.
Using this newly discovered stem cell method, Nakauchi and his team successfully treated a mouse of diabetes in 2017. The researchers implanted mouse stem cells into an embryo of a rat that was unable to develop a pancreas. This rat developed a pancreas made entirely of mouse cells! This pancreas was subsequently transplanted into a diabetic mouse, and the new organ was able to efficiently control blood sugar levels!
Injecting rodent DNA into other rodents and effectively transplanting organs between rodents are difficult tasks, but they are marginally easier than producing organs using human cells within animals that are genetically distant from humans, such as pigs. In 2018, the scientists attempted to create a pancreas in a sheep using human stem cells. However, despite being raised for 28 days, the humanimal embryos did not develop a pancreas, probably due to the genetic gap between the two species.
Is this moral or safe?
That’s an excellent question! The experiment’s leader, Nakauchi, has declared that if human cells enter the embryos’ brains, the experiment will be halted. Not because it would make the humanimal more human, but because it could impair the creature’s cognition, which would be inhuman. Experiments like these were previously prohibited mostly due to ethical considerations.
Some argue that extracting animal organs for transplant is no more morally wrong than rearing animals for slaughter. Many people believe that the need for organs for people in life-threatening situations outweighs animal rights. It may be regarded as a necessary evil. Of fact, for some, even eating animal meat is unethical. Many contend that letting humanimal embryos to develop fully and become living beings opens up a whole new can of ethical worms. Animal rights activists think that animals have the right to live and a high quality of life, and that they should not be used in medical research.
The ethical discussion over these new animal studies joins the long-debated ethics of employing animals in medical experimentation. Pigs may not have rights, but people have, so how much human DNA will it take to create a humanimal human? Nakauchi, a Stanford University researcher, adds that the “input of human cells thus far is relatively minimal.” It’s not like a pig with a human face or brain,” the humanimals will be far more animal than human. To some extent, GMO people. To say the least, creepy.
Half human, half cat…
Although the humanimal trials are contentious and far from perfect, they are a step forward in medical technology that will potentially save many human lives in the future. Given the genetic gap between people and animals such as pigs and sheep, it may be some time before we see an abundance of newly generated human organs, but the day will come! But don’t worry, there won’t be any half-human-half-cat creatures roaming down the street; such strange animals will be confined to the Broadway stage.
We have personally witnessed the negative effects of GMO food and its production. The promise of plenty. GMO in human form might not be the best idea after all. Except in a controlled atmosphere. But what happens if something goes wrong? So, what now?