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Spanish scientists are making 'very promising' human-monkey chimeras in China
The first human-monkey hybrid has allegedly been created in a Chinese lab.
- Leaked research by Spanish scientists claims that they've created the world's first human-monkey chimera embryo.
- Lead researcher, Juan Carlos Izpisúa has previously worked on pig-human embryos.
- Their intended goal of the study is to use the animals to create organs for human transplant.
Scientists controversial claim that they've created the first human-animal hybrid in a Chinese laboratory has been leaked to the Spanish newspaper El Pais. A team of Spanish researchers operating in China, say they've created embryos that are part human — and part monkey.
Biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa, who also operates a lab at the Salk Institute of California, led the research project.
Their stated goal is to one day figure out how to use the animals to create organs for human transplants. They believed that creating a hybrid was an important first step. Human-animal "chimeras" would be utilized as sources for transplantation.
More specifically, the team injected human stem cells into a monkey embryo, giving the cells the capability to create any kind of tissue within the embryo. The test was halted, however, before any gestation period could commence, which kept them out of shakier ethical territory. Even still, the Spanish scientists were required to hold the experiment in China as it has a greater infrastructure in the transgenic scientific domain — that is to say, more lax laws.
Creating human-monkey chimeras
The creation of chimeras is relatively straightforward. Scientists inject human embryonic stem cells into an embryo of another species that's only a few days old.
Izpisúa has experience with this type of research, as he previously tried to add human cells into pig embryos. His research with pigs hit a roadblock, which is why he shifted toward experimenting on primate embryos.
Scientists genetically engineer certain types of animal cells to be disabled so that there is a greater chance for the human stem cells to take hold. This kind of research is not allowed in the United States, the National Institutes of Health states that federal funds cannot be used to create human-monkey chimera embryos. China, on the other hand, has no such law.
No such human-monkey hybrid has ever been born. The mixed embryos do not progress past one to two weeks of growth inside the lab. In a statement to El País, Estrella Núñez, biologist and administrator and Catholic University of Murcia, said that mechanisms have been put in place to halt the growth progress.
Some ethical concerns that were raised, such as the fear that human stem cells could somehow migrate into the monkey embryo brain.
Dr. Ángel Raya, of the Barcelona Regenerative Medicine Centre told El Pais: "What happens if the stem cells escape and form human neurons in the brain of the animal? Would it have consciousness? And what happens if these stem cells turn into sperm cells?"
Núñez remarked that the human cells would self destruct if they made their way to the brain.
Additionally, Raya said that, traditionally, scientists have set an agreed-upon destruction date of 14 days' gestation. That is, so the embryo does not have time to develop a human central nervous system.
Implications of the potential research
Izpisúa is optimistic about the yet to be published research "We are now trying not only to move forward and continue experimenting with human cells and rodent and pig cells, but also with non-human primates," he says. "Our country is a pioneer and a world leader in these investigations."
Núñez describes the results as "very promising," and stated that the research is pending peer review in a respected scientific journal. At this point, we won't know the full extent of the experiment until the research is published.
This news comes in the wake of Japan becoming the first country to approve of human-animal embryo experiments. The Japanese government intends on letting stem cell researchers conduct experiments with the same goal of one day creating organs that could be transplanted into humans.
There is still some debate as to whether this is the best method. Pablo Ross, a veterinary researcher at the University of California, Davis, who worked on pig-human chimera experiments, doesn't believe that it makes sense to grow human organs in monkey cells, for instance.
"I always made the case that it doesn't make sense to use a primate for that. Typically they are very small, and they take too long to develop," he says.
Ross thinks that the researchers may be after more fundamental scientific questions — the "questions of evolutionary distance and interspecies barriers."
Research like this can make the public and ethicists alike feel squeamish. Regardless of whether the research turns out to be valid or productive, it is regardless — on its face — still pushing the boundaries of biological and genetic inquiry.
Although China has had its own public relations misstep with scientist He Juankui, who edited the genes of two babies to be resistant to HIV, the country's open laws overall allow for more daring experimentation.
Transgenic biotechnology will be a revolutionary step in combating a wide range of diseases and disorders. Perhaps even one day it could usher in new expressions of human traits.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.