Beware the Spider-Shark

Copyright Calene Luczo [Portfolio]

Zookeeper BB passed along a neat story from Wired about artists from the Science Illustration Institute at CSU-Monterey, who currently have an exhibition going on about fanciful animal hybrids.

So of course, the other Zookeepers were having a good laugh at BB’s expense, when what should appear in our daily news feed but today’s announcement of scientists implanting human stem cells into pig embryos and then growing the darn things for a few weeks.

Although it sounds frightening, it seems the team at the Salk Institute is actually trying to see if human organs can be induced into growing in host animals (such as pigs) so that human patients don’t die while waiting on a transplant list — which happens all too frequently.

Currently this kind of “chimera” (technical name for an animal with cells from two different species) research is not eligible for federal research but should it be? Or is this kind of research opening up a dangerous pandora’s box leading to the Spidershark?

Read the articles and let us know what you think. If you don’t have time to, that’s ok — you can relax in the knowledge that scientists are not yet close to growing even small human organs in pigs, much less creating the spidershark……for now. But it is something that will have to be thought about in the future.