They’ve already begun experimenting with rats’ brains.
And they are conducting research using hybrid human/mouse brains to investigate a rare and fatal viral infection, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
And they are using hybrid human/mouse brains to study schizophrenia.
And, they’ve sought approval for transferring progenitor glial cells from “donated” aborted human children into the brains of adults with multiple sclerosis.
Emory neuroanatomist Todd Preuss had a helpful idea, though it came too late. He stated that it “would be interesting to see if the investigators would get the same effects … by engrafting chimpanzee or macaque glia.” Indeed, why did Goldman, Nedergaard and their team, not experiment first (or only) with chimp/mouse or macaque/mouse hybrids rather than jumping right into aborted human fetal brains?
Goldman said they decided against experimenting on primates – as recipients of human glial cells – "because of all the potential ethical issues." But, apparently, he and his team see no ethical issues in dissecting the brains of aborted human children for their research. Could their findings help those who suffer from “incurable” diseases, like MS and schizophrenia? Possibly, but their use of brain cells from aborted children raises at least three grave concerns:
First, it can be seen as legitimating abortion, by pointing to potentially good therapeutic results. Research by Nazi doctors on holocaust victims yielded findings that could produce therapeutic results, but medical ethicists agreed that no findings arising from their violations of human rights and medical ethics should ever see the light of day.
Second, the use of progenitor glial cells from aborted children is completely unnecessary because the same cells can be derived by using human adult stem cells (a simple procedure that does not result in anyone’s death), which can be induced to become pluripotent.
Third, why not put human glial cells into the brains of chimps and macaques? Professor Wolfgang Endard, of Munich’s Ludwig-Maximillians University, asked a reporter for "MailOnline" (U.K.): "If you make animals more human-like where do you stop?" Good question, because once the process of isolating glial cells from aborted human children is perfected by other researchers with more flexible ethical standards, it is only a matter of time before the process described by Dr. Goldman et al. is used to create super-chimps and super-macaques who could then be trained to perform many human tasks. The horizon for potential uses and abuses of other primates is virtually unlimited. Lord, have mercy.
is a senior writer for Aleteia’s English edition.