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經濟學人下載:神獸出世--人猴雜交(3)

Source: Economist    2021-05-13  我要投稿   論壇   Favorite  

The researchers hope this biotechnological wizardry will help with two goals. One is to shed light on the complicated process of embryological development, which might eventually lead to treatments for some congenital diseases. Chimeras may offer a way around some of the ethical difficulties involved in experimenting on human embryos. 

研究人員希望這種生物技術的巫術能夠幫助實現兩個目標。一是闡明胚胎發育的復雜過程,這最終可能導向對某些先天性疾病的療法。嵌合體可能提供了一個辦法來繞過在人類胚胎上做實驗所涉及的某些倫理困境。

The other is the hope that chimeric animals might one day provide a source of organs to be transplanted into sick humans. In 2017 Japanese researchers demonstrated the principle by transplanting parts of a pancreas that had grown inside a mouserat chimera into a diabetic mouse, curing it. Whether that can work in people is, for now, unclear. And research into human chimeras is ethically fraught. America, for instance, forbids federal funding of such work. Most of the work reported in this latest paper happened in China. 

另一個希望是有朝一日嵌合動物或許能提供可移植給患者的器官。2017年,日本的研究人員演示了這個原理。他們把在小鼠-大鼠嵌合體中生長的胰腺的某些部分移植給了一只糖尿病小鼠并治愈了它。這是否能運用于人體目前尚不清楚。而對人類嵌合體的研究充滿了倫理爭議。例如美國就禁止聯邦資助這類研究。這篇最新的論文中所述的研究大部分發生在中國。

But if chimeric human organs do become a reality, macaques are unlikely to be the animal of choice, says Dr Izpisúa Belmonte. The most likely donor would probably be pigs (this is why his 2017 experiment focused on the animals). Their organs are roughly the size of their human equivalents, and, fairly or unfairly, they seem to provoke fewer moral qualms. (Pigs already provide thousands of people with replacement heart valves, for instance.) 

但如果嵌合人體器官真的成為現實,伊茲皮蘇亞貝爾蒙特博士說,獼猴不太可能成為首選動物。最有可能的供體來源或許是豬(這就是為什么他2017年的實驗專注于豬)。它們的器官與人類的對應器官差不多大小。而且,不管是否公平,它們似乎更少引發道德上的不安。(舉例來說,豬已經為成千上萬人提供了替代心臟瓣膜。)

The advantage of working with monkeys, at least for now, is that they are much closer, in evolutionary terms, to humans. That may have helped smooth out any compatibility issues between the two sets of cells. The hope is that lessons from experiments with humanity's close cousins might allow the researchers to revisit their work with its more distant, porcine relatives—and get better results. 

至少目前而言,與猴子合作的好處是從進化的角度來說它們和人類要親近得多。這可能有助于消除兩組細胞之間的任何排異問題。值得期待的是,從與人類的近親合作中所獲的經驗或許可以讓研究人員改進在豬這種遠親上所做的研究,獲得更好的結果。


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