Saturday, January 14, 2006

Pigs and Rabbits

I read two articles today that astonished me.

The first item detailed how scientists are planning to create rabbit/human hybrid embryos. Stem cells would be harvested to pursue treatments for motor neuron diseases, such as Lou Gehrig's disease, progressive muscular atrophy, primary lateral sclerosis. According to this site:
The motor neuron diseases (MND) are a group of progressive neurological disorders that destroy motor neurons, the cells that control voluntary muscle activity such as speaking, walking, breathing, and swallowing.
Research so far has been hindered due to the lack of availability of human eggs, but these hybrids would get around that obstacle. By injecting human DNA (from patients with MND) into eggs from rabbits, a workable representation of this devastating condition could be created, showing its progress and potential treatment could be developed. I think that this creative solution to a very difficult problem shows a tremendous amount of promise. Even if the effort is only moderately successful, hopefully it will lead to broader, deeper research into cures for other diseases than is possible now.

The other news item also deals with stem cell research. Scientists in Taiwan have created glow in the dark pigs by injecting embryos with fluorescent matter from jelly fish. While the green tinge is most easily seen around the eyes, mouth and feet, every part of the pigs is actually green from their internal organs to their hair. Wu Shinn-Chih, one of the researchers who developed the green pigs, said that:
fluorescent cells would show up during stem cell treatment of diseased organs, allowing physicians to monitor the healing progress.
Since pigs are often used in researching human diseases and the green tint would help observers more easily observe tissue changes over time, it seems to me that there is great potential in this idea as well.

Stem cell research sometimes frightens people -- some simply reject the idea of it without fully understanding the process or the benefits. Or they may jump to the wrong conclusions, perhaps thinking in the case of the first article that scientists are developing rabbit people who will one day walk among us, or in the case of the second article that pork chops will soon be glowing in their butcher's case. I believe that stem cell research is one of the most promising areas of medical research today. Given proper funding and a willingness to see what can be accomplished, amazing leaps in our understanding of the human body and the conditions it may suffer are possible. And even if you are staunchly opposed to the idea, I hope you find these two quirky news items interesting and thought provoking!


At 1/14/2006 9:25 PM, Blogger Karen said...

Hmmm...I don't know. Something concerns me about human and rabbit DNA creating a hybrid. I can't put my finger on it. Guess it's something more to think about...and perhaps argue about!

Michele sent me!

At 1/14/2006 9:29 PM, Blogger Carmen said...

Very, very interesting.....

Michele sent me;)

At 1/14/2006 11:22 PM, Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Rabbit humans?! Sounds like a horror movie!

Love your blog! Michele sent me.

At 1/14/2006 11:35 PM, Blogger Joe said...


Here via Michele.

At 1/15/2006 2:04 PM, Blogger mar said...

scary, I must say... here via Michele's. Bookmarking you for Photo Friday

At 1/15/2006 2:27 PM, Blogger kenju said...

It is a little scary. I agree that we do need more and better ways to cure diseases, but if a "mad"scientist gets ahold of this one - some real horror stories could come out of it.

Laura, thanks fro letting me know it was you I got the link to Cook Text from. I have edited the blog to credit you with the link. THANKS!

At 1/15/2006 8:02 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Wow, that is some pretty crazy info! I don't have a problem with stem cell research, but something about the human-rabbit hybrid freaks me out a bit.

And that is so interesting about the glow-in-the-dark pigs!

At 1/15/2006 8:19 PM, Blogger Gooberman said...

I read about the green pigs as well. Shows some promise. Who knows where it may lead in sceintific endeveurs. Even though the picture of the green pig looked spooky, it also had a cute look to it.
Michele sent me, in case you didn't know.


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