In the last few months, scientists have used cutting-edge genetic engineering technology to combat some of humanity’s greatest ailments. Temple University researchers are using CRISPR to cure HIV. Similarly, other geneticists in America and Russia plan to use the gene editor to cure deafness and blindness. While those initiatives are controversial, their basic methodologies are scientifically sound and not monstrous.
However, a group of Japanese researchers are planning to address organ failure with a horrifying new project. As reported by Nature, the Japanese government just approved a research request to create human-animal hybrid embryos.
Doing the Unconscionable
Researchers from the University of Tokyo and Stanford University just received approval from the Japanese government for a project that aims to grow human organs in animal hosts. Lead scientist Hiromitsu Nakauchi intends to inject mice and rat embryos with human stem cells and then transplant the altered embryos into animal surrogates.
Thankfully, Nakauchi doesn’t intend to bring any rat-hybrids to term. Instead, he wants to see if his team can generate human organ development in mice and rats. The research group’s stem cell injections will be explicitly targeted to stimulate the growth of human pancreases. In the first stages of the experiment, scientists will terminate embryo development after 14 days.
However, if Nakauchi’s first round of tests is successful, the group will ask the Japanese government for approval to replicate their experiment with pig embryos. Given the genetic similarities between pigs and humans, the development of viable pig-human hybrids would open up the way for cross-species organ transplantation.
How Is This Legal?
Previously, the Japanese government strictly prohibited scientists from doing ghoulish things like growing pig-human chimera. However, in March, Tokyo changed tacts and decided to allow scientists to make “Power Rangers” monsters if they so choose.
In the United States, no laws prohibit the development of animal-human hybrids. Indeed, American researchers have even created pig embryos that have been injected with human stem cells. However, U.S. geneticists never brought any of these ungodly creatures to full term.
Moreover, the National Institutes of Health have banned the funding of chimera research since 2015. Presumably, the agency instated the prohibition after viewing and understanding the lessons of “Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.”
Ethical and Technical Obstacles
Though the Japanese research group has received government approval to blend human and animal genetic material, there are some technical impediments to their work. Jun Wu of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas noted creating human-animal hybrids is inherently problematic. The scientist told Nature the pig embryos would likely purge the human stem cells as part of their maturation process.
Besides, Carolyn Neuhaus, a medical ethicist with The Hastings Center, objected to the Japanese group’s work on ethical grounds. She posited the development of pig-human hybrids could lead to the construction of horrifying organ farms.
The most unnerving and least likely implication of the Japanese chimera is the development of pigs with human brains. Bioethicists worry that by injecting human stem cells into an animal embryo, some of those cells could drift into its neural tissue. However, Hiromitsu Nakauchi noted his group would avoid Brundlefly outcomes by making target injections that will only affect pancreas generation.
Also, there is one undeniable negative consequence of the development of human-animal hybrids. By implication, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones actually got one right. As such, the end of human civilization should be imminent.