The Scientific Case for Studying Chimeras

Chimera di Arezzo
Chimera di Arezzo was created by the Etruscans. Chimeras were established in mythology by Homer in Iliad as “a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire.” Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The definition of humanity is sacrosanct to many people. As science does, that line continues to blur. Stem cells have long been an ethical minefield for scientists to navigate for funding. Even something as common as an organ transplant was initially met with significant ethical concerns.

Most recently, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has proposed changes to their policies controlling the funding for stem cell research creating human-animal chimeras. On the surface it may be hard for the general public to imagine that combining human and animal cells could result in anything other than mythical creatures of Homer’s Iliad. Human chimeras are much more common than one may believe, and the reason to allow studies on these models is to further our understanding of diseases and how to treat them. Continue reading “The Scientific Case for Studying Chimeras”