Chimeras – UPSC Prelims

  • Chimeras are organisms that are made up of the cells of two distinct species.
  • For instance, if this hybrid embryo is placed in the womb of a monkey, it could possibly grow into a new kind of animal.
  • Research: Scientists have injected human stem cells(cells that have the ability to develop into many different body tissues) into the macaque monkey embryos. This integration created a chimeric tool.
Purpose of Chimera Research: Researchers believe that the ability to grow cells of two different species together helps scientists in research and Medicine such as:
  • Advancing current understanding about early human development,
  • Understanding disease onset and progression
  • Drug evaluation and
  • Also, it can address the critical need for organ transplantation.
Concerns Regarding Chimera Research:
  • Moral Dilemma: Humans are widely thought to have a higher moral status than other animals. But human-animal chimeras blur this line. These Chimeras are not fully human nor fully non-human.
  • Survival Issues: Some rare hybrid animals exist naturally probably as a result of unintentional cross-breeding between animals of different species.
  • However, generally different species don’t cross-breed. But if they do, their offspring don’t survive for long and are prone to infertility.
  • Issue of Infertility: Mules are an example of a hybrid animal that is the result of mating between a female horse and a male donkey.
  • Mules can live a long healthy life. But they are infertile which means that they cannot have offspring of their own.
  • Injustice Against Animals for Human Needs: Chimera research has the potential to worsen injustice against animals as it is being done to meet human needs.
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