Mouse With Human Brain May Live
Animals have been getting a real work-out in science lately. Methuselah
mice are helping humanity with aging, pigs
are trying artificial corneas and monkeys
get gene manipulations that force them to work hard with no thought of reward.
Now, Stanford University has given famed researcher Irving Weissman permission
to create a mouse-human hybrid. The intent is to inject human brain cells into
the brains of developing mice to see what happens. The National Academy of
Sciences will unveil guidelines on chimera and stem cell research this spring.
Professor Henry T. Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences and leader of the committee that considered the proposal, told the San Jose Mercury News, "We concluded that if we see any signs of human brain structures . . . or if
the mouse shows human-like behaviors, like improved memory or problem-solving,
it's time to stop."
This is a good idea; all students of science fiction and 1990's Saturday morning cartoons know full well what happens when mice start getting ideas:
you pondering what I'm pondering?)
I hope, dear reader, that you will forgive me for not being able to pass that
Certainly, I take seriously the whole idea of such a creation, called a chimera
And, in the interests of intellectual rigor, I point out that perhaps the
earliest reference to the idea that a chimera could be a product of science
is that of the "monsters manufactured" in H.G. Well's 1896 novel The Island of Dr. Moreau:
"...It is not simply the outward form of an animal which I can change. The physiology, the chemical rhythm of the creature, may also be made to undergo an enduring modification,--of which vaccination and other methods of inoculation with living or dead matter are examples that will, no doubt, be familiar to you."
(read more about monsters manufactured and chimerae)
I'm not sure why scientists are fixated on the idea that small rodents can help humanity, but I've been seeing it a lot lately. Besides the Methuselah mouse example mentioned earlier, rat neurons in a dish are being taught how to fly planes; and hairless mice have been used to grow human ears:
(Can you hear me now? Good!)
Read a bit more at Stanford researcher wants to create human-mouse hybrid.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/16/2005)
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