The Island of Dr. Moreau

Have you ever read HG Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau?

“After a collision between two ships in rough seas, the wreck’s sole survivor languished for eight days under a merciless sun. With neither food nor drink death seemed certain, but miraculously, Edward Prendick survived. Yet what he would encounter in the days ahead was more horrible and terrifying than death, for the island on which he landed was the home of the infamous Dr. Moreau whose goal was to create a powerful new breed of animal part man and part beast. Is it a miracle of science or a crime against nature?”

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — On the sun-splashed Caribbean island of St. Kitts, Yale University researchers are injecting millions of human brain cells into the heads of monkeys afflicted with Parkinson’s disease.

In China, there are 29 goats running around on a farm with human cells coursing through their organs, a result of scientists dropping human blood cells into goat embryos.

The mixing of humans and animals in the name of medicine has been going on for decades. People are walking around with pig valves in their hearts and scientists have routinely injected human cells into lab mice to mimic diseases.

But the research is becoming increasingly exotic as scientists work with the brains of mice, monkeys and other mammals and begin fiddling with the hot-button issue of cloning. Harvard University researchers are attempting to clone human embryonic cells in rabbit eggs.

Such work has triggered protests from social conservatives and others who fear the blurring of species lines, invoking the image of the chimera of Greek mythology, a monstrous mix of lion, goat and serpent.

During his State of the Union speech in January, President Bush called for a ban on “human cloning in all its forms” and “human-animal hybrids,” labeling it one of the “most egregious abuses of medical research.”

Can’t say that I am a fan of this, but I am not sure that I am absolutely opposed either. There are a lot of shades of gray here.

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