back to article UK set to greenlight chimera research

The UK's fertility regulator is expected to give its seal of approval to research on human-animal hybrids in the UK. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published its consultation on the proposed draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill yesterday, in which it said most people consulted were at ease with the …

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Resistance:FOM

Should we be preparing for a showdown with these Chimera in Manchester Cathederal?

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Anonymous Coward

"99.9 per cent human, 0.1 per cent animal DNA"

Given that a chimp has 98% of its dna in common with humans, that 0.1% is enough in practice to take you 5% of the way from human to chimp.

Stand by for the furries to start growing tails on their offspring!

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Anonymous Coward

How does this work?

"The Bill paves the way for the creation of embryos composed of 99.9 per cent human, 0.1 per cent animal DNA."

Since human and animal DNA (at least for higher order animals) are pretty much different by only a percent or so, this seems to leave everything pretty open.

(and since some humans seem to be partially jackass, weasel, cockroach, etc. already, this leaves it even more open) :P

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"At ease?"

Sounds like they worded the survey very cleverly. If you actually explained it to people, I suspect most would be horrified.

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Anonymous Coward

Repent

For the time is nigh for Frankenstein's monster's Second Coming.

He'll be hungry. Oh look, here's a tasty science cheerleader at El Reg...

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The door is being opened ...

... and no one knows where it will lead.

What happens when one of these hybrids IS implanted in a womb ? After all, it is what they are itching to do, so I reckon it is a safe bet that someone will.

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What it really means

"The Bill paves the way for the creation of embryos composed of 99.9 per cent human, 0.1 per cent animal DNA."

Let's be clear about this. The "animal DNA" is the mitochondrial DNA of the host cell, not the animal's genomic DNA, which has already been removed, so any talk of "chimeras" or "hybrids" is a lot of nonsense cooked up by people who are either ignorant of modern biology or who are pushing an anti-science agenda.

The mitochondria are the "power plants" of the cell, and the mitochondrial DNA does little more than act as the "computer program" which controls the energy generation within the cell. It plays no role at all in making a human a human, or a cat a cat, or a cow a cow.

Human mitochondrial DNA is only about 17,000 base-pairs ("letters" of the genetic code) long. The mitochondrial DNA of other mammals is a similar size. Compare that to human genomic DNA, which is 3 billion base-pairs long, and you can see that the information content of mitochondrial DNA is tiny compared to genomic DNA. Placed in that perspective, all of the hysteria about human-animal hybrids can easily be seen as the nonsense it is.

Here's another interesting thought about mitochondria. It's been known for more than a century that mitochondria (and their plant counterparts, chloroplasts) bear a striking resemblance to bacteria. In fact, there is a large body of evidence that mitochondria and chloroplasts are actually the descendants of bacteria which invaded the cells of our far distant ancestors and set up a symbiotic relationship. So your mitochondrial DNA isn't really human after all.

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Anonymous Coward

Confused

Lets see, half Donkey (Jackass), and half Human. Creature of legend.

This reminds me of the movie "The Fly"!

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Anonymous Coward

Cows

Can they please use cows for some? When the great Human-Chimera wars break out, it would be horribly efficient to have a good taste for your fallen foe/dinner.

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Anonymous Coward

@Andy

Quote: "If you actually explained it to people, I suspect most would be horrified."

If you actually understood what you were writing about, you'd realise that most people would either not care or be highly in favour of it because there is nothing horrific about it at all.

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You're a chimera...

Here's an interesting thought for those who are horrified by this research: What are YOU made of exactly? Let's see; you started as about 1 nanogram of sperm and a few hundred nanograms of ovum. Your mother ate plants and animal flesh, and her body assimilated those vitamins and proteins and added them to your developing foetus. If you accept that your flesh is that of your mother, well, assuming you were around say 4 kilos birthweight, that's a maximum of 4 kilos of you that can consist of your mother's human flesh.

Now if you can read this, you weigh a damn sight more than 4 kilos. So where did the rest come from? Could it be all those carrots and peas and potatoes, all that cow and sheep and chicken you've eaten all your life? YOU, my friend, are made of bits of plant and animal flesh. Along with all the bacteria, insects and dirt that have made their way into your system (unless you're the Boy in a Plastic Bubble). Add to that all the chemical preservatives and crap that's in our food today, and you can probably add crude oil and bits of rock to the morass as well!

So as long as we are aware of the potential consequences of such research, and accept the massive responsibility that comes with our burgeoning power over life itself, there is nothing ethically wrong with such studies. Any more than there is anything ethically wrong with eating.

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100m in 5secs?

The Olympic Games in about 2024 should be interesting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You're a chimera...

I think this post slightly misunderstands most of what it's talking about.

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Responsibility

"So as long as we are aware of the potential consequences of such research, and accept the massive responsibility that comes with our burgeoning power over life itself, there is nothing ethically wrong with such studies"

What possible evidence is there that we have acted responsibly in any of the previous instances where we've gained power over these kinds of things? Accepting responsibility means that sooner or later there are things we agree to completely rule out - can someone suggest a significant choice we have made not to do something we could do, in the last ten years?

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Anonymous Coward

hmmm

ITT scaremongers who know nothing about science but just love waving their hands whenever the words clone, nuclear or airtravel are mentioned (bar 3 people and a few who are in it for the lols)

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Reminds me of something I watched last night ....

Alien : Ressurection anyone? lol

But seriously, I think it's great that this research is going ahead, the possibilities of essentially being able to grow spare parts for humans is fantastic. I just wonder how long it is before over-sized genitalia is grown and sold for 'augmentation surgery' :D

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Raised by werewolves..

All I can think of were the really not-so-cool tv shows about kids being raised by wolves and having glow-in-the-dark eyes and some sort of ability to scare bullies crapless by making pathetic animal grunts.

On the other hand I feel the 99.99% / 0.01% scenario is a tad disappointing. A real opportunity exists to come up with some excellent experiments on people, especially the unemployed.

Give them a purpose I say, let them become guinea pigs in the hybrid super-soldier wars of the future. What could go wrong, besides the inevitability of insanity having the half animal brains required for merciless killing machines.

And to those that say they will inevitably turn on their human masters and destroy civilisation in the post nuclear war apocalypse, I can point to the Official England Supports Club as evidence that human-animal hybrids can be safely contained.

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Law

nay sayers

Any nay-sayers should be put on a register and be refused treatment using methods developed by this research.

I loved it in an episode of B*llshit (by penn and teller) where a PETA boss was pushing an agenda of anti-animal testing - while taking insulin for her diabetes. The insulin came from pigs, and animal research gave her that chance for life. Some people just arn't worth saving!!

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