benefits of human/chimp hybrid experiment?

Chris Colby colby at bu-bio.bu.edu
Fri Jul 19 18:47:52 EST 1991


	Maybe this topic is just National Enquirer material, but
let's think for just a moment about what scientific benefits would
be derived from the proposed experiment. Later we could compare
the expected benefits with the expected moral implications --
and if utilitarian arguements would be valid in regards to this.

	Apart from the "gee-whiz" factor, I can think of a couple
pieces of information that might be obtained in hybridization
experiments.

	By doing numerous chromosome swapping experiments
it could be determined how many genes contribute to reproductive
isolation of the two species. Also, the locations of these
genes could be mapped and the identity of these genes
could be determined. It is hypothesized that the major
differences between chimps and humans is in regulation of
developmental genes -- this could be (perhaps) be confirmed
or refuted.

	Whether or not it contributes to reproductive isolation,
the developmental patterns of humans and chimps do differ.
Possibly, some insights into developmental differences in
the two species could be obtained.

	I'm not saying I'm in favor of the experiment (I'm not
sure of all the implications). Also, I wouldn't even want to
comment on the feasability of trying this, even if there were
no ethical impediments. But, I think it makes for some interesting
armchair speculation. Can anyone else think of specific scientific
benefits that could arise from this experiment? Or what about
useful medical information? Also, could someone clearly spell out 
why they think this would be unethical? The comments on this have 
been very vague.

Chris Colby
email: colby at bu-bio.bu.edu



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