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Professor Esmail Zanjani of the University of Nevada, Reno, has devised a method of injecting sheep fetuses with human stem cells—resulting in an animal comprised of 15% human cells.
Researchers intend to grow organs containing the cells of patients scheduled for an organ transplant. Bone marrow is taken from the patient and injected into the fetus of a sheep. The sheep then grows normally, but with organs containing both human and sheep cells. So far, 15% is the highest count of human cells that has been achieved.
Of course, this kind of experiment brings with it ethical debates. With more than 94,000 people in the U.S. currently waiting to receive organ transplants, some believe that growing these tailor-made organs is the solution. Others disagree, opposing the technique on religious grounds. And animal rights groups say this and similar experiments should be stopped.
Side effects remain to be seen, and the greatest worry is that an unknown dormant disease might jump from sheep to humans when organs are transplanted. Time will tell. The professor leading the research says testing in humans is still years away.
What makes human beings different from animals is that man has a mind instead of a brain. What will happen as human beings blur the lines between man and animal—further obscuring this vital difference so few seem to recognize? Many see man as just the highest form of animal, seeing little or no difference between animals and themselves. How soon before the mind is affected in ways that we don’t understand?
Consider the implications. Will what can only be seen as sheep-human “hybrids” have minds capable of building, learning and creating? What makes the human brain different from that of a sheep, chimpanzee or other animals?
The scientific community asserts that, over the course of millions of years, our brains evolved into what they are today. On the other hand, many religious groups believe the human mind is the result of God giving man an immortal soul, setting him apart from animals. Is either view correct?
With knowledge expanding at a staggering rate, headlines about a “sheep-man” no longer hit with the impact they would have fifty years ago. The “future,” it seems, is here. Yet, even if in this age of burgeoning scientific discovery, will these same scientists, whose studies bring about new knowledge, ever be able to find how or why our minds are able to discover, learn and create in the first place?
To learn more, read the booklet What Science Will Never Discover About Your Mind.