Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The 'humanimal' Genie is out and gone.

All the fuss there's been about the creation of embryos created from the mixing of human and animal genes for the creation of stem cells for scientific research. The Prime Minister has been forced to allow his Catholic Ministers a free vote. I'd been worrying myself about how I'd vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill if I was an MP. I still find it a very difficult issue tro come to a decision about, and I'm still uncertain about which way I'd vote. And then I was just watching Newsnight tonight, when 10 minutes ago, Jeremy Paxman casually announced as a minor item of news that scientists at Newcastle have just gone and done it. Just like that. Newsnight paid much more attention to last night's item on Nick Clegg's prolific sex life.

So what was the fuss all about if the scientists have already started to mix animal and human material to create a new form of life. No problem they tell us, because they have every intention of destroying it again during the next few days. Bloody frightening isn't it?
Two things occur to me. Firstly, the scientists must be so certain that their activities are going to be approved by Parliament , that they saw no reason to delay. And secondly, if Parliament passes an amendment to strike down this sort of experimentation, there will be no possible way in which it will now be stopped. The genie can rarely be put back into it's bottle. I wish I hadn't read those damn Dan Brown books last month.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

I am aghast, appalled, devastated, can hardly breath air. Do they not understand what they have done? I would say that this is such a grave issue that it is worth going to war for against another country, but it is my own country that has done it.

It is beyond my belief that my own country could do this wicked thing. I am shocked.

This monster will consume the UK - Gordon Brown is making decisions based on "what-criteria".

We are now embarked on a slippery slope to oblivion. Make no mistake, this is wicked work. Man has set up his own oblivion. I did wonder what that image was, the one showing the underbelly of an Eagle against a dark background.

Now I know, this underhand trick, a kick to man's belly. I honestly can't imagine the conflict and horror we have just inflicted on ourselves. The UK PLC is set up for ruin. I just can't see this grave wicked thing going unnoticed.

I wonder now if the UK is about to fall of its perch. This is just so appalling. I am lost for words.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn> the BBC (and I think the Telegraph) reported that the research at Newcastle University was approved by the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ahead of the vote. I can't imagine that Gordon Brown was not aware of the authorization and must have had the opportunity to stop it. Is there no bottom limit to GB's cunning? I'm afraid for the UK, this PM has no moral compass, and he is hell bent on destroying the very fabric of the nation. He wants to put in place irreversibly destructive forces that will change the UK for ever. He has just achieved one, the UK is now changed for ever ... and it is not a good change.

Robert said...

Being disabled with a spinal cord injury, having a heart which is about to fail kidneys and liver problems because of my bowel and bladder dysfunction, boy I hope they do something useful with this and get something done, because I'm slowly dying and I like to live a bit longer.

But the problem is this will end up working for some money making company who finds a way to pick up a womens breast or remove lines from her face, or makes her look twenty when she is eighty five, or allows ninety one years old to have a baby.

Left Field said...

To go to term, they would have to transplant it back into a woman. No one is suggesting that that will happen.

If it wasn't done here, it would be done in the far east, with far fewer controls.

If it can help with cures for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's I'm all for it.

Dr Chris, your prose is brilliant. You should consider writing a Stephen King type novel ;-)

Glyn Davies said...

christopher - I share your concern about where all this might lead, but its now too late. As left field comments, this technology will now go ahead, either legally or illegally, in the UK or elsewhere - probably is already.

Robert and left field - instinctively I would have been completely opposed to this conmingling of human and animal, but my own growing interest in Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's makes it a difficult issue for me. I am suspicious that there two diseases (and MS) are being used to persuade people to accept the Government's plans to a far greater extent than is justified by the potential benefits.

Frank H Little said...

As I understand it, the only contribution which the animal egg makes towards the human embryo is to provide a sort of envelope in which the human cells can develop. There is no animal contribution towards the development. (Though there is a tiny amount of extra-nucleic material, if I have that right, which does not contribute.)

The animal eggs replace human eggs in these experiments, which have been going on for years. Those human eggs are in short supply - you may remember the justified furore when it was revealed that a scientist in the Far East had coerced female workers into sacrificing some of their eggs.

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - I was aware of all of that. The issue is where this leads. Journeys to paradise and hell both begin with a single step - with apologies to Confucious and Neil Armstrong.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Honestly, there's more promise of actual treatments using adult stem cells which don't come with rejection issues. I am sorry; combining human DNA with animal DNA in this fashion does not even address the rejection issue. Adult stem cell technology already is curing people - there is now a track record for treating illnesses.

There is not a cat in hells chance that those with conditions like Parkinson's will be cured by the human-animal mixture of cells. The bank of organs that may be developed using this technology will come with the same tissue rejection issues.

I'm sorry, but you have been conned. There was no real promise of better cures using this monster technology.

Keep in mind that some scientists are inclined to hype up their research with false promises of cures. Some scientists have very big egos wanting to be the first at doing x, y or zee.

By this appalling misplaced faith we have, as a species, built a genetic time bomb. I say this to you now, as a scientist you have been conned with false promises. We already have a non-controversial technology that actually has a track record for offering treatments - adult stem cell technology which domes not come with tissue rejection problems and does not lead to monster cancer growths in the recipients of the adult stem cells.

It's pretty much over now for what we understand as Homo sapiens. Each mix of human-animal DNA creates a new species of human-animal. It is inevitable that we will have human-animal hybrids going full term and combined with cloning technology we have set ourselves up for a Roman fall.

We need not look for intelligent alien species in the outer reaches of space; we are creating alien species here on earth.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Frank> sorry, but you are wrong. The extra-nuclear DNA of which you speak is animal DNA found in the animal mitochondria which have innate ability to self-replicate during cell division, each cell from each cell division will include animal mitochondria, the resulting cells will have a mix of human and animal DNA.

Think about the practicalities of this monster technology. It is a LOT easier to use adult stem cells nudge them into differentiating into desired human tissue without any contamination with animal mitochondria, all the mitochondria are you, no contamination of the human genome, no creation of new species. I'm sorry, but you have not been told the truth; essentially you have been conned with false hopes.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news for those suffering terrible illnesses - but this human-animal technology is not practical for providing treatments, it is more complicated a lot more convoluted than adult stem cell technology which does not risk mankind's genetic foundation and comes with no tissue rejection issues.