Tag Archives: humans

Playing Dr. Frankenstein – not “cutting-edge”!

We don’t need ‘Frankenscience’ to solve the organ shortage

By Dr. Emily Trunnell

In Greek mythology, the sighting of a chimera — a creature composed of parts from more than one animal — was a bad omen.

I think it still is.

Experimenters at the Salk Institute made headlines recently with the publication of a study describing how they grew fetuses that were part pig and part human.

Although these chimeras contained few human cells, the work was widely hailed as a milestone — an initial step toward a far-off day when people in desperate need of transplants can order organs from warehouses in the form of living animals.

Leaving aside for a moment the unique ethical minefield that this line of research creates, let’s look at how patients in need of organs could be helped today, without subjecting intelligent, sensitive pigs to invasive procedures and then killing them — as was the fate of both the fetuses and the surrogate mothers who carried them in the Salk Institute’s experiments.

Just a simple change in law is all that is required. In Belgium, France, Sweden and other countries that have passed presumed consent laws, which presume that people’s organs are available for donation upon their death unless they opt out, or mandated choice laws, which require adults to choose whether or not to donate their organs, the number of organs available for donation has increased dramatically. For instance, since changing its law in the 1970s, France has seen organ donations shoot up by nearly 5,000 percent.

As for the rationale behind the Salk Institute’s study, its senior author is quoted as saying, “[O]rgans developed in petri dishes are not identical to the ones that grow inside a living thing. … What if we let nature do the work for us?”

“Petri dish” hardly does justice to the recent advances in sophisticated 3-D bioprinting that now allow scientists to grow human tissue in a highly controlled manner, with more precision and consistency than is possible in chimera experiments, in which tissue develops in live animals.

The same can be said of 3-D organs-on-chips, a technology that is not only providing insights into diseases — another justification given for chimera work — but also offering the potential for personalized medicine when, eventually, the efficacy of therapies will be able to be tested on a patient’s own cells. If we’re going to invest in long-term research to grow and study human organs, shouldn’t we pursue these pioneering, high-tech methods?

Because of the unique moral dilemma that chimera research presents, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) took the rare step in 2015 of imposing a moratorium on funding studies in which human stem cells are injected into animal embryos. (The Salk Institute experiments were privately funded.) While NIH has indicated that it intends to lift the funding ban in certain circumstances, I hope it will reconsider. Instead, it should support forward-looking, non-animal methods of developing replacement organs and researching disease.

We need to leave behind the ancient world of mythological creatures and embrace the promising, cutting-edge technologies that will alleviate the suffering of both animals and humans.

And remember! When buying stuff like household cleaners and make-up, have a 💙💜💛❤💞💗💙😍! – always BUY PRODUCTS NOT TESTED ON BUNNIES!

ELF, Wet ‘n’ Wild and Physicians Formula are just a few of the great cosmetic brands that are CRUELTY-FREE. You can buy their fine and beautifully priced products at CVS, WALGREENS or TARGET!

Rose always buys her cruelty-free mascara, made by Wet ‘n’ Wild, at Walgreens. $3 bucks. pic/text: R.T.


Hurrah for humans!

By Edith Morgan

I ‘ve just completed a three-week battle with my computer, which decided to “freeze up” at random, when I am in the middle of doing something on it. That would not be such a bother if I had not, like many  of us, come to rely more and more on its various talents.

I got seduced by its speed, the fact that I could reach so many people simultaneously and instantly, and in the convenience of my own home. For messages that do not require privacy, or that are not  unique … it was a great tool for research and for keeping in touch with far-away friends and relatives. 

But something was, and is, missing – all the speed and immediacy still can not replace a living, breathing, thinking human being!

Everywhere I go I see that humans are being replaced by machines. Call your doctor, your bank, any of the great multitude of bureaucracies we have to deal with, and it is almost impossible to reach a sentient human being, who could answer a simple  question – one that is not included in the myriad choices that the computerized nit-wits have presented in the never-ending loop of repetitions you get when you call. 

Therefore, I am always overjoyed when I call the Worcester DPW number and get a live person, who always directs me to the right department, or assigns me a number for the task they are going to perform. And they DO perform it!!

The de-humanization of everything commercial – in the name of saving money, I suppose – is probably partly responsible for the rage that some people feel in dealing  with these creations, which sit uncomprehending and blinking away as you try to make yourself understood.
But while we have been removing the human element from so many places where it is needed, we have granted human status to other entities, which are not capable of the moral, empathetic and reasoning behaviors that distinguish a real human from some other type of creation.

We have really gone over the cliff in this area: we have endowed corporations with all the rights (but none of the responsibilities) of a human being; and we have also given the human attribute of speech to … yes, MONEY!!! So we now live in a country where money talks, corporations are people, and a fertilized egg is a person. Yet we can not bring ourselves to stop killing those who disagree with us, and we continue to spend $100 or more for munitions, for every $.01 we spend on peace.
So, as we celebrate the birth of  one we call “the Prince of Peace” is it not time we consider what we are doing – and really invest in peace, in human beings – real, live, viable, fully developed human beings and their families and neighborhoods? Is it not time to treat each and every one of our fellow humans as truly made in the image of God, and therefore not to be so easily labeled and “removed”?

How about trying the way of those whom we worship and admire – the way of ALL who preach peace, humaneness and caring for each other?

As we enter 2016, is it not about time to live and think differently?