Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Ok this does not quite fall into the 'useful stuff' category, but it is interesting. National Geographic is running an article on medical experimentation that makes cloning look like a high-school science experiment. Apparently there are a number of laboratories around the world working on the creation and medicinal use of 'chimeras'. Named for the mythical Greek creature with body parts borrowed from a number of different animals, a chimera in lab terms is a hybrid creation that is part animal, part animal.
One of the biggest anticipated uses for such creatures is the ability to grow 'spare' body parts that could be used for transplantation, but some of the experiments really do cross the line into the world of crazy science. For example, Dr. Irv Weissman (director of Stanford University's Institute of Cancer/Stem Cell Biology and Medicine in California) is working on creating mice with human brains. The reason for this is apparently to help understand how the human brain develops and works, but it certainly raises some scary moral, ethical and spiritual questions (as do many of the ongoing studies in this field)!
It's a really good, thought provoking read, so pop on over to NG on your lunch break for a real-life freak show.