General, Research, Technology

Why are Spanish scientists working to create a chimera of man and ape in China?

The Internet is full of rumors. So, according to the leaked studies of Spanish scientists, as reported by El Pais, the world's first hybrid of ape and a person was created in a Chinese laboratory. Lead author Juan Carlos Ispisua previously worked on pig and human embryos. The proposed research goal is to use animals to create organs for human transplantation. In the course of the work, scientists injected human stem cells into the monkey embryo, allowing the cells to create any kind of tissue within the embryo. But for ethical reasons, the Spanish authorities stopped the experiment before the animals began to get pregnant. For this reason, Spanish scientists were forced to conduct an experiment in China, since the country has a large infrastructure in the transgenic scientific field - in other words, the laws of the Celestial Empire do not prohibit such experiments.

Shot from the movie "Planet of the Apes"

The research project was led by biologist HuangCarlos Ispisua, who also runs a laboratory at the Salk Institute of California. The stated goal of the work is to figure out how to use animals to create organs for human transplantation.

Creation of chimeras ape man

Despite the fact that the word "chimera" soundsintimidating, their creation is relatively simple and not even scary. Scientists inject human embryonic stem cells into another species of embryo that is only a few days old. Ispisua has experience with this kind of research, as he previously tried to add human cells to pig embryos. As his research with pigs ran into obstacles, he turned to experiments on primate embryos.

During the creation of chimeras, scientists geneticallydesign certain types of animal cells to be disabled so that human stem cells have a better chance of anchoring. This kind of research is prohibited in a number of countries, but in China, for example, there are no such laws.

Japanese scientist plans to insert human cells into rat embryos (pictured)

It is important to understand that the human-ape hybrid in question has never been born. The fact is that mixed embryos are notprogress after one to two weeks of growth in the laboratory. In a statement to El País, Estrella Nunez, biologist and administrator of the Catholic University of Murcia, said that mechanisms have been in place to stop the progressive growth of the embryo.

Creation of the ape-man chimera like otherssuch experiments cause a mixed reaction from the general public. For example, a number of ethical issues have been raised, such as the fear that human stem cells might somehow migrate into the brain of a monkey embryo. Dr. ngel Raya of the Barcelona Center for Regenerative Medicine told El Pais the following:

What happens if stem cells break out and form human neurons in an animal's brain? Will he have consciousness? What happens if these stem cells turn into sperm?

However, Nunez notes that human cells self-destruct if they enter the brain. Besides, there is an established agreed date for the destruction of all such chimeras - 14 days of pregnancy. This is necessary so that the embryo does not have time to develop the central nervous system.

See also: Editing the genome. Greatest good or absolute evil?

Ethical issues

The consequences of such studies

The results obtained during the work Nunezdescribed it as “very promising” and stated that the study is pending peer review in a reputable scientific journal. At the moment, we are not aware of the full scope of the experiment, as the results have not yet been published.

It is noteworthy that this news appeared afterof how Japan became the first country to approve experiments with human and animal embryos. The Japanese government intends to allow stem cell researchers to conduct experiments with the same goal - one day, create organs that could be transplanted into humans.

Genetic engineering is developing rapidly, which sometimes causes alarm to the general public

There is still debate over whether this ismethod is the best. Pablo Ross, a UC Davis veterinarian who has worked on experiments on pig and human chimeras, doesn't believe it makes sense to grow human organs in monkey cells, for example. “I've always thought there was no point in using primates for this. They are usually very small and take too long to develop, ”he said in an interview with Big Think.

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Ross thinks researchers might be lookinganswers to more fundamental scientific questions, for example, “questions of evolutionary distance and interspecies barriers,” since the creation of chimeras causes disgust among both the public and ethicists. Whether the research turns out to be sound or productive, it still - at first glance - continues to push the boundaries of biological and genetic research.

Although China has already made a mistake with scientist HeJuankuem, who edited the genes of the two babies, as my colleague Daria Eletskaya spoke about in detail, the open laws of the country as a whole allow for more daring experiments.

One way or another, in the future, transgenicbiotechnology has the potential to be a revolutionary step in the fight against a wide range of diseases and disorders. What do you think, is it worth scientists to conduct such experiments, or science has crossed the acceptable ethical boundaries? We will wait for the answer in the comments to this article, as well as in our cozy Telegram chat.