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Dr. Frankenstein’s Mouse

January 4, 2007

This is a little out of date, but Dr. Irving Weissman plans to create the first chimera in the United States. He wants to genetically engineer a mouse with human neurons. The resulting transgenic mouse would be useful for testing drugs for schizophrenia, ALS, parkinson’s, alzheimers and other neurological diseases, as each neuron would be completely human. As of now, the plan is to kill the mice if their brain structure or behavior deviates from normal mouse behavior.

I wonder if this will become a big story in the general media.

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One comment

  1. It’s hard for me to take the ethical complications of human chimeras seriously – the “Stuart Little” outcome is purely the stuff of movies, and only really needs to be considered a risk for the sake of scientific rigor and to keep from getting caught up in red tape.

    The degree to which we can hybridize, though, is going to surprise us all, I think. Our DNA seems easy enough to blend with that of not-too-evolutionarily-distant mammals like pigs (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4558). I also like the idea of hybridization awakening certain effective retroviruses – it’s at least a plausible theory.



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