Thursday, 28 January 2016

Drew Pepper Part VIII: read it for free

At a certain point in the unfolding of any fictional story having to do with science, people start to wonder: is it based on something that is true? Or is it just science fiction?

Drew Pepper is based on truth. So let's call it a science faction.

About ten years ago, Canada developed legislation to regulate any biomedical experiments employing human embryonic stem cells. Though the law was passed, the government failed for years to set up and fund the Agency the legislation called for. So there was a law, but it wasn't an effective law, leaving scientists with big questions as to what they could do, or could not do, legally. As in Drew Pepper, the government also failed to properly define a chimera, leaving human-animal combinations outside its new rules.

In the US, regulation of this science by governments followed different paths. The federal government, under President George W. Bush, decided that human embryonic stem cell experiments should not be funded by the National Institutes of Health. Yet after a ballot initiative, the state of California created its own agency to fund the study of human embryonic stem cells.

If you want to better understand the facts, theories, politics and business of stem cell, chimera, and cloning science, try my non fiction book, The Second Tree: of Clones, Chimeras and Quests for Immortality published by Random House of Canada in 2004.

As a recent MIT Review of Technology story by Antonio Regalado makes clear, now various research groups in the US, mainly in California, are doing the kinds of experiments Rachel, Jerczy and Esty embark on in Drew Pepper.

The point of these experiments is to grow humanized organs in animals for later transplant into specific human patients. Which sounds like a terrific idea. However, as NIH ethicist David Resnick explained to Regalado, there is the possibility that the addition of human stem cells (embryonic cells or tweaked adult stem cells) to an early stage animal embryo could also change another organ-- the animal's brain-- sufficiently to end up with lab animals having higher intelligence.

“The specter of an intelligent mouse stuck in a laboratory somewhere screaming ‘I want to get out’ would be very troubling to people,” said Resnick, sounding just a tad like Drew Pepper.

Read Part VIII of Drew Pepper for free.

*Need to catch up on my new novel? Click here to read a synopsis of the novel. I'm currently releasing the new novel on this blog in parts -- one part each week.

Click here to read: part I
Click here to read: part II
Click here to read: part III
Click here to read: part IV
Click here to read: part V
Click here to read: part VI
Click here to read: part VII
Click here to read: part VIII

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