This topic, addressed in the article below that I came across one night recently, sounds like something straight out of a grade B horror movie: scientists inject human brain tissue into lab rat brains, the rats become as smart as people, escape the lab, and take over the world.
Well ... probably that could never happen.
But apparently this practice of transplanting human brain tissue into lab rats for experimental purposes has been going on for some time now.
The article talks about
"... chimeric animals, that is, animals endowed with human attributes, in this case human brain cells."
So why put human brain tissue into lab animals' brains in the first place? According to the article: "... because they (the transplanted human brain cells) consist of living human brain cells, scientists can use them to study (in lab animals) brain development, cognitive disorders, and the way certain diseases affect the brain."
But concern may then arise when there is fear that such experimentation "... will somehow endow the creature with human-like traits, such as greater intelligence, more complex emotions, and so on."
And then the article even cites a case where "... neuroscientists replaced around half of the mice brain with human cells, mostly glia, during development ... (and) this intervention caused enhancements of the rodent’s cognitive capacities, including augmentations to memory, learning, and adaptive conditioning."
Again, grade B horror move? (And, BTW, Halloween is coming up, so maybe this topic, Frankenrats, is appropriate after all).
But the article then goes on to insist that the intellectual growth potential of animals so altered is limited, and their intelligence enhancement will remain minor, if any.
And it maintains that only "... entities that are capable of making rational, conscious choices possess intrinsic moral value," and until this happens with these lab animals there will be no ethical problem.
As the article states: "... the presence of human cells in a nonhuman animal’s brain doesn’t just suddenly make it a human brain. It’s not like scientists have suddenly created a human mind trapped inside an animal’s body."
But then it also states: “... a chimeric animal that developed evidence of self-awareness and rational decision-making—again, very unlikely at this time—would warrant a pause in the research and a broader discussion across society about
the direction of this research.”
Well hello, Dr. Frankenstein.
BWAHAHA! It's alive! It's alive!
Granted, this whole topic does seem a bit strange. But the issues such experimentation raises are certainly enough to invite a bit of concerned, even chilling, thought on a Friday about
Chronic prostatitis (age 60 on)
BPH w/ urinary obstruction, 6/2011
Ongoing high PSA, 7/2011-12/2011
Biopsy, 12/2011: positive 3/12 (90%, 70%, 5%)
Gleason 6(3+3), T1c
No mets, PCa likely still organ contained
IMRT w/ HT (Lupron), 4/2012-6/2012
PSAs (since post-IMRT): 0.1 to 0.3 range