CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Of Mice and Human Brains - The Interspecies Connection

An article by Rick Weiss in the Washington Post ("Human Brain Cells Are Grown in Mice," Dec. 13, 2005) disclosed how California scientists injected embryonic stem cells to create living mice with working human brain cells.

"The research offers the first proof that human embryonic stem cells -- vaunted for their potential to turn into every kind of human cell, at least in laboratory dishes -- can become functional human brain cells inside a living animal, reaching out to make connections with surrounding brain cells."

There is probably some biblical injunction against crossing species, but this probably has to do with human relations with beasts outside of the petri dish. One wonders whether interpolation of that prohibition would be applied to the above experiment. In an age where much of food is genetically engineered, anyway, should mixing of human brain cells and animal hardware be surprising?

The more advanced technology gets, the more outlandish. Our culture tends to ridicule claims of telepathy, relegating certain kinds of experiences to either religious mysticism or a category known as "psychic phenomena," which is associated with pay-by-the-minute 800 numbers rather than any hard data. When mice begin to solve the puzzle faster than humans, though, we might think again about what is possible for our species. We might also begin to reconsider the relative ranking of species, and our domination of natural resources.

Inject a mouse with Einstein's brain cells and who knows, that mouse might teaching us about ways of perception we have not yet imagined within the telescoped boundaries of consensus imagination. I think we can follow technology to the spiritual as easily as away from the currents of the soul.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173