Playing God

Almost three years ago I wrote an article, “On human-whatever-species-else hybrids” and in it I posed a question that states, “Can the evince of both species features be manipulated?”. A year later, I wrote another article on a similar topic, “On human-avian hybrids“. In it I managed to cite the “latest” on research on human-animal hybrids.

nucleus of a cow eggThe two articles somehow contradicted each other as one cites the creation of a 32-celled human-bovine embryo while the other one cites a quote that leans to the impossibility of combination. Today, almost two years later, the top search result on Google on this topic is an article from two years ago. The article is not even about a group which aims to create recombinant species but for medicine – their goal is “the development of new therapies for debilitating human conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke”. Clearly, not much progress has been made in this area of science.

Then again, we can’t know about “top-secret” and “highly confidential” information using the surface of the web.

So, now the question goes down from whether it will be possible to control the evince of the species features to whether it will be possible to create a complete recombinant creature. As from before, there can be two sides to ask from.

First, the highly biblical people. Recombinant lifeforms are creatures which are never mentioned in the Bible. Therefore, if we ask some of them, as I have done, they will simply cite verses in the Bible that states something about creatures reproducing according to its kind. Also, they will cite about there only being one Creator and that Creator is not among humans. Therefore, it won’t be possible for recombinant creatures to have existed or to be created.

Second, the highly scientific people. From the 1960’s, when recombinant DNA technology first emerged, various research by numerous teams have been conducted that lead to the improvement of knowledge about DNA and its applications. It used to be that every attempt at recombination was a failure. But further research discovered significant components of the DNA that lead to the possibility of injecting foreign genes to an organism, either to add to its intrinsic value, to its aesthetic value, or, in a very straight-forward thought, to try to learn more about it and improve techniques.

As with combining different species, Leslie Pray of Nature Education in the article Recombinant DNA Technology and Transgenic Animals states,

The first actual recombinant animal cells weren’t developed until about a decade after the research conducted by Berg’s team, and most of the early studies involved mouse cells. In 1981, for example, Franklin Costantini and Elizabeth Lacy of the University of Oxford introduced rabbit DNA fragments containing the adult beta globin gene into murine (mouse) germ-line cells. (The beta globins are a family of polypeptides that serve as the subunits of hemoglobin molecules.) Another group of scientists had demonstrated that foreign genes could be successfully integrated into murine somatic cells, but this was the first demonstration of their integration into germ cells. In other words, Costantini and Lacy were the first to engineer an entire recombinant animal (albeit with relatively low efficiency).

Since these early studies, scientists have used recombinant DNA technologies to create many different types of recombinant animals, both for scientific study and for the profitable manufacturing of human proteins. For instance, mice, goats, and cows have all been engineered to create medically valuable proteins in their milk; moreover, hormones that were once isolated only in small amounts from human cadavers can now be mass-produced by genetically engineered cells. In fact, the entire biotechnology industry is based upon the ability to add new genes to cells, plants, and animals. As scientists discover important new proteins and genes, these technologies will continue to form the foundation of future generations of discoveries and medical advances.

However, as is always the case with new technology, various questions, ranging from the purely scientific to the ethical and moral, arise to challenge such knowledge. And, to quote from the same article above,

Interestingly, not long after the publication of his team’s 1972 study, Paul Berg led a voluntary moratorium in the scientific community against certain types of recombinant DNA research. Clearly, scientists have always been aware that the ability to manipulate the genome and mix and match genes from different organisms, even different species, raises immediate and serious questions about the potential hazards and risks of doing so — implications still being debated today.

Yes, they talk of “mice, goats, and cows” but, apparently, I was wrong and, in the world of science, more specifically, in biotechnology, it may not be long before we could see people and institutions such as the ones described in James Patterson’s Maximum Ride. The question is, are we willing to take the risks that inevitably come with playing the role of the creator?

On human-avian hybrids

As I was checking out my site stats today, I kinda found out that a lot of searches go for this topic. So, I did a li’l research…

Most of us, if not all, are wondering if it is possible to have these kinds of creatures. Various opinions from the web can be found on this topic. WikiAnswers.com has these. I, imho, have this to say:

My spiritual side tells me that it is not possible as such creatures wasn’t one of the things God created. But neither are we so sure of that. We can never say that we have a complete record of human history. We cannot erase the possibility that human-avian hybrids, they may have had a different name then if they have existed, existed before the time of man. Well, they will not be called human-avian hybrids if man hasn’t existed yet. As for referrence to the Bible, it does not usually enumerate every creature there is. Instead, the Bible just says, “every living being on the land”, “every bird that flies in the skies” or something like those.

On the scientific side, the first answer on wiki is rather curious.

No, the genetic make up of each species DNA are completely different so that it is not compatible for combination. Not to mention the obvious ethical and moral parameters that would be violated.

Though, I won’t really totally trust the items from WikiAnswers. Not to mention the typos…

I have once read an article on human-bovine hybrids. (Too bad I forgot to note the url. I wonder if there is a link somewhere in this blog.) They have stated that they were able to successfully make a living 32-cell human-bovine, that would be cows, hybrids. (I am actually wondering why they chose cows.) It is living in a sense that those cells are, literally, alive. But the thing is that the creature can not yet thrive.

The Flock has this, BTW.

To stay on topic…

So far, I haven’t found items or articles, scientific ones, that cater to these creatures. Most kinds of human-avian hybrids that I’ve found are on viruses. Viruses that infect humans, mostly on the avian flu research.

We’ll keep up…

On human-whatever-species-else hybrids

I’m kinda curious about this concept and got more into it after reading James Patterson’s Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment.

People, uhm, scientists from Britain managed to prove that hybrid species is a possibility. They were able to create a 32-celled human-bovine embryo and are working to improve it. To the scientists, would-be scientists, wannabe scientists, this:

“Can the evince of both species features be manipulated?”

I mean, like in Maximum Ride, the human-avian hybrids were perfect in a sense that only the “wanted” features manifested. They didn’t look like ugly mistakes of genetic engineering. I mean, can genetic engineering really reach that? Some recombinant life forms mentioned in Maximum Ride didn’t look so ugly – as defined. The director of ITEX, a human-galapagos tortoise hybrid, was perfect in a sense that it didn’t have tortoise-like body or something.

I guess, without much manipulation of the embryo, those recombinant life-forms would have looked hideous. They could have had bird feet, feathers all over their bodies, beaks, shells and whatever else unsightly. They would have looked like… mistakes; like some other recombinants mentioned.

Now that’s what makes me wonder. And I want answers, explanations, or something.

Can genetic engineering really do that?