Monday, March 26, 2007

The Sheep-Human: More on Stem Cell Research

I almost called this post The Man-Sheep, but then I thought that would sound too political and people might get the wrong idea.

No, this is a post about how scientists have created sheep with partially human organs.

The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells - and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer...

The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor's bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep's foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant.

Aside from the ethical issues, which don't seem to bother scientists at all anymore, there are arguments that this genetic tampering could introduce certain viruses--which are harmless in animals--to humans. Without knowing which viruses could be introduced or their impact on humans, it's a dicey proposition.

But am I the only person bothered at the idea of sheep walking around the fields with human organs, just waiting for transplant?