Animals Grow Human Organs for Science

Scientist are growing human tissue and organ inside of animals for study and the possibility of creating donor parts that can be harvested from the animals. MSNBC.com reports that just outside of Reno, Nevada a farm contains a "flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs." The research is legal and could have huge health benefits but some are concerned that growing human parts inside mice, pigs, sheep and other animals is gong too far.
But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.

In the past two years, scientists have created pigs with human blood, fused rabbit eggs with human DNA and injected human stem cells to make paralyzed mice walk.

Particularly worrisome to some scientists are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep's head?
One of the problems with the research so far is that the organs grown inside the sheep and other animals tend to mix with the animal's own cells which would cause problems during transplanting such as rejection -- or worse giving the recipient a disease the animal had.

Posted on May 4, 2005

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