Tag Archives: Jurassic Park

Synthetic human embryos from human stem cells? Ethical issues on the horizon!

That’s where it all begins . . .  human life, that is. What you see is a scan of the surface of a human embryonic stem cell.  (Photo credit to David Scharf and Science Source. )

An article by Carl Zimmer  in the NY Times this week raised the prospect that science is on the threshold of creating “synthetic human entities with embryolike features”.  (“Sheefs” in their acronym.)

Hold it right there!  Just what IS a “synthetic human entity with embryolike features”?

“Soon, experts predict, they will learn how to engineer these cells into new kinds of tissues and organs. Eventually, they may take on features of a mature human being.” (Quote from the Times article, my emphasis added.)

“Features of a mature human being”  –– Hmm, and what does that mean?  Does that ( in the not-so far distant future) mean man-made creatures walking around, looking like us, but with “parents” were petri dishes in a lab?

I don’t speak directly of Sheefs or stem cells in my science techno-thriller A REMEDY FOR DEATH, but the problem REMEDY raises is much the same as in the quote–taking on “features of a mature human being”.  (For the record, neither did Michael Crichton in JURASSIC PARK get into this issue of stem cells in bringing about his dinosaurs.)  But something like that had to have been done in both JURASSIC and REMEDY to reach the outcomes.

But REMEDY and JURASSIC PARK  are just science fiction. But the “fiction” is quickly fading as reality pushes up against the “what-if.”  As Paul Knoepfler, a biologist at University of California, Davis, put it, speaking of this and other  related research at the University of Cambridge: “They’ve opened the door to a lot of tough questions.”

Which echoes a warning from the fictional Kate Remington, Ph.D.  in A REMEDY FOR DEATH: “You’re opening very dangerous doorways! Once they’re open, there’s no stopping what may come through from the other side of that doorway!”