‘Adventurous’ woman sought to carry Neanderthal baby
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
By Tim Walkins, Germany
An “adventurous” woman is being sought by a Harvard professor to give birth to a baby Neanderthal.
George Church made the public plea to pursue his real-life plan to bring our long-extinct relative back to life.
The ‘adventurous female’ would be implanted with a cloned human stem cell that had parts of the Neanderthal genome in it.
Prof Church of Harvard Medical School is one of the world’s leading geneticists and believes his Neanderthal bone-sample analysis is now complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.
“We can clone all kinds of mammals, so it’s very likely that we could clone a human.
“Why shouldn’t we be able to do so?”
“The first thing you have to do is to sequence the Neanderthal genome, and that has actually been done.
“The next step would be to chop this genome up into, say, 10,000 chunks and then synthesise these. Finally, you would introduce these chunks into a human stem cell,” he told Der Spiegel magazine. “If we do that often enough, then we would generate a stem cell line that would get closer and closer to the corresponding sequence of the Neanderthal. We developed the semi-automated procedure required to do that in my lab.
“Finally, we assemble all the chunks in a human stem cell, which would enable you to finally create a Neanderthal clone.”
The distinguished professor, who helped create the Human Genome Project, said the cavemen could have been more intelligent than humans and had larger craniums.
“When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it’s conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial,” he said.
“They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force.”
Crucially he added: “Now I need an adventurous female human… It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.”
Human cloning is illegal in many countries, but as Prof Church is theoretically dealing with a Neanderthal, existing laws may not apply.
As well as the ethical concerns of creating a neo-Neanderthal, scientists believe the resultant baby could lack immunity to modern diseases, and may not survive.
But the birth may not be quite what a human woman was used to, Gawker reported.
While Neanderthal children didn’t need to rotate to get to the birth canal, their mothers generally had a wider birth canal than human women.
The baby would also be expected to have a longer head than a human child.
Many experts feared such a process would be unkind to a living Neanderthal.
Bioethicist Bernard Rollin of Colorado State University said: “I don’t think it’s fair to put people… into a circumstance where they are going to be mocked and possibly feared.”
Philippa Taylor of the Christian Medical Fellowship said: “It is hard to know where to begin with the ethical and safety concerns.”
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