Pope Francis Said to Bless Human-Animal Chimeras
A scientist sought the Vatican’s approval for mixing human cells in animal embryos. And the Pope said yes
By Antonio Regalado on January 27, 2016 @ TechnologyReview.com/news/546246/pope-francis-said-to-bless-human-animal-chimeras
A Spanish scientist working at the Salk Institute in California told Scientific American that Pope Francis personally blessed his cutting edge research to mix human cells into animal bodies.
Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a prominent stem-cell biologist, is engaged in efforts to grow human tissue inside of farm animals such as pigs, sheep, and cows. This type of research is sensitive because scientists have to inject human stem cells into early-stage animal embryos, then try to grow the mixtures inside surrogate animals.
Much of Belmonte’s work occurs in collaboration with a team in the province of Murcia in his native Spain, a sausage- and ham-loving country which is about 77 percent Catholic.
“Spain is a very Catholic country, so we had to go through the Pope. He very nicely said yes.” Belmonte told Scientific American. “Yes. The current Pope. So the Vatican is behind this research and has no problem based on the idea is to help humankind [sic]. And in theory all that we will be doing is killing pigs.”
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Vatican’s scientific body, did not respond to an e-mail seeking to confirm Pope Francis’s position.