Friday, May 06, 2005

1025 Time's Up!

If I've ever seen a reason for God to say, "OK. It is finished (again)," it is the story of chimeras (ky-MIR-uhs), specifically the SCID-hu mouse story in today's Wall Street Journal. My work in the Veterinary Library at Ohio State made me vaguely aware of their debut in 1988, but I was busy with pig-poop, feline aids, and horses with one testicle, so I didn't pay much attention to mice with human-brain stem cells. "The Centaur has left the barn" says bio-ethicist Henry Greely.

Bio-ethics. Now there is an oxymoron. We Americans can't agree on the humanity of an 8 month fetus or the right of an unborn baby to live if he has deformed limbs. How in the world will we deal with human brain cells that are part mouse brain? Do we really want a cure for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's that badly (and there is absolutely no evidence that stem-cell research will ever provide this) if it means eventually they find they've gone over the line (after killing thousands of mice to examine their brains to see if they are becoming more human)? I wonder what the researchers will do when they find they've got a mouse that is more human than mouse? Kill it, I guess, and harvest the cells. Can't be more human than an 8 month old fetus, right?

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