From our student Amanda Hazy – a blog post for the class.
In late September, NIH declared a funding moratorium on research working toward creation of human-animal chimeras. Recent research in this field has attempted to use animals to generate human organs for transplantation by injecting early animal embryos with human stem cells to direct organ development. However, many question whether it is ethical to create “human-animals” and use them in research, while others are concerned about the potential for human cells to reach the animal’s brain and impart some level of human consciousness. NIH has halted funding until the ethical and moral aspects of the debate can be fully assessed. What are your thoughts on the risks and/or the potential of human-animalchimeras?
1) Can scientists perform research with human-animal chimeras and still maintain the principles of human dignity and animal welfare? And do animals receiving human stem cells truly have the potential to become “half-human” vs. simply serving as “incubators” for organ development?
2) Do the potential for organ development and the need for transplantable organs outweigh the ethical questions surrounding this research? Or is this type of work truly necessary considering advances in other sources of organs such as pigs, etc.?