Monday, May 02, 2005

Mouse-sized people leads to people-sized mice

Arthur commented this morning that if he had a blog, this is something he'd blog about:

"Adult stem cell researcher Irving Weissman, M.D. of the Stanford School of Medicine wants to develop mice that have a lot of human neurons in their brains.

So Stanford asked where it should draw the line. It is the first university in the nation to tackle the philosophical question: When does a chimera stop being an animal and start becoming a person, suggesting that research should end? The report foreshadows the release of guidelines on stem-cell research, including chimeras, by the National Academy of Sciences this spring.

'We concluded that if we see any signs of human brain structures . . . Or if the mouse shows human-like behaviors, like improved memory or problem-solving, it's time to stop,' said law and genetics Professor Henry T. Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences and leader of the committee."
Arthur began to marvel at the science, the ethical dilemma, the sci-fi-esque-ness of it all, the very idea that Stanford Ph.D's were considering the possibility that these scientists could develop mice with people brains prompted the blog comment. All I had to hear was "mice with people brains," and I knew what was going on. I saw the writing on the wall. I've seen Pinky & Brain enough times to know that smart rodents are dangerous (yet doomed to fail time and time again due to hilarious circumstances). I vowed never to view my friend's hamster the same way again.

Equally as disturbing as the thought of tiny mouse-sized geniuses taking over the world was the concept of " if the mouse shows human-like behaviors." Like asking for a doughnut. Or voting for an idiot. Twice. Or TiVo-ing the Spanish version of Deadwood on accident because it pressed the button for HBO-L (Latino) instead of HBO-1. You know, human-like behaviors.

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