Cloning - Archive

Cloned Sheep is 15 per cent Human

Sheep geneticists did not make the headlines for a while, but now they are back and in a big way. Scientists have managed to create the world's first sheep-human hybrid at approximately 85 per cent sheep and 15 per cent human. The concept of producing these sheep-human hybrids for the purpose of organ farming may appear enticing at first, but these developments have the potential to have large effects even outside the medical community…

 

 

 

In 1996, genetic engineers managed to produce the first successful clone of a mammal: Dolly the sheep.

Sheep geneticists did not make the headlines for a while, but now they are back and in a big way. Scientists have managed to create the world's first sheep-human hybrid at approximately 85 per cent sheep and 15 per cent human. This female human-sheep hybrid, or "Baa-bara", is the product of Professor Esmail Zanjani, of the University of Nevada. He believes that the procedure can create many organs for needy patients.

"The two ounces of stem cell or bone marrow cell we get would provide enough stem cells to do about 10 fetuses," Zanjani said. "So you don't just have one organ for transplant purposes, you have many available in case the first one fails."

Zanjani has spent about $12 million USD and seven years of his life working out the glitches of this cloning procedure, and presumably disposed six years worth of improperly mutated hybrids in the process.

The concept of producing these sheep-human hybrids for the purpose of organ farming may appear enticing at first, but these developments have the potential to have large effects even outside of the medical community.

If Zanjani produces 10 fetuses for every one organ transplant, there would be limited use for the extra sheep between organ harvests.

Few people would be willing to wear sweaters woven out of Baa-bara wool when they find out 15 per cent of her is Mrs. Smith from down the road. Hybrids would still need the farmland that a regular sheep would, and these sheep would likely be deemed unfit for human consumption. Therefore, if the market for organ farming takes off, many inedible sheep will take up farmland that could be used for the traditional variety of sheep.

The number of regular sheep will likely decline after the introduction of the Baa-baras, and the cost of lamb chops, wool sweaters and Ugg boots (whose primary make-up is sheepskin) will skyrocket, causing turmoil in the food and fashion industries. If Zanjani's procedure turns out to be incredibly effective, a slippery slope will emerge where further genetic advances are developed in the name of saving lives.  

An equally split human-sheep would likely provide many organs suitable for transplant. Of course the satyr-like result would pose issues of legality and intelligence.

In the end, the complicated ethical dilemmas presented by the Baa-baras make them a definite threat to society, and reasonably priced meat, as we know it.

[http://media.www.brockpress.com/media/storage/paper384/news/2007/04/03/International/Cloned.Sheep.Is.15.Per.Cent.Human-2820614.shtml; Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) www.chninternational.com; Julian Runcan 4/3/07]