Monday, December 09, 2002

CHIMERA CONCERNS

Stanford scientists produce hybrid mouse with human cells
BY LISA M. KRIEGER Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - In a cross-species experiment that raises provocative ethical questions - but offers potential therapeutic advances - scientists at Stanford University have created a pint-sized hybrid, a healthy mouse with paws, whiskers and millions of human cells in its brain....

Assuming that Weissman's experiment is highly unlikely to boost the mental capabilities of the mouse, what might occur if brain tissue were transplanted into a higher creature - say, a primate much more closely related to humans?

"If human cells can be implanted into mice, they could also be put in chimpanzees? Is it possible to develop animals that are of a cognition and sentience that rival our own?" asked Larry Shapiro, a lawyer and bioethicist with the University of Southern California. "What actual properties of a `mind' does an animal have to have before it is considered a person? It's not precise.

"If you create a mentally augmented chimp, does it become a person? Can you keep it in a zoo? Can it apply for admission into law school? These are legitimate questions," he said....