Update: In an interview with the Boston Herald, George Church says the idea that he was actively seeking someone for the project was a misinterpretation based on his translated Der Spiegel interview. From the Herald: "I'm certainly not advocating it," Church said. "I'm saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today."
Maybe Neanderthals just get a bad rap. One well-credentialed Harvard scientist, at least, thinks they're more intelligent than they're portrayed, and he's willing test that theory out. He just needs an "adventurous" woman on board as a surrogate for a modern-day Neanderthal.
George Church of Harvard Medical School is a geneticist noted for his work on the Human Genome Project. If Neanderthals were re-introduced to the planet, he says, their way of thinking could be beneficial to Neanderthals and Homo sapiens alike. His plan to create a baby Neanderthal--"neo-Neanderthal," if you will--goes like this. 1) Make artificial Neanderthal DNA from bone samples. 2) Introduce that DNA into stem cells. 3) Put those stem cells into a human embryo, and the DNA will steer it toward becoming a Neanderthal. 4) Put that embryo in a woman and wait for her to give birth.
Church writes in his latest book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves, that an "extremely adventurous female human" is still needed, but in an interview with Der Spiegel, he said he believes it's "likely" to happen in his lifetime. From the interview:
If you guessed this might be the tiniest bit controversial, you're right, as The Independent points out. Many countries have banned human cloning--but does this legally qualify as human cloning? Will the neo-Neanderthal be able to survive modern diseases? And if it did, would it be accepted into society? That's not even getting into the ethical concerns of using a surrogate mother in the procedure.
So will Neanderthals make a comeback soon? Hard to say, maybe, but they've been extinct for about 33,000 years now, so they can wait a little longer.
I think popsci needs to check the source on this story.
heres his site
heres his book
I like some of the ideas, but immortal human components? Last i checked the teleromes shorten with every division, and the telorome blocker drug causes cancer. Its good to have dreams i suppose.
I suppose its very easy to criticize from a distance, and pick out the parts that are soft targets. But for all the sequencing, people have the hubris to think that we are the masters of the environment, and separate from it. Every time we insert a new gene into a bacteria, it swaps it to its buddies and then between species. So in just 50 years or so of rampant antibiotic use we have new strains that are resistant to chemicals we stole from fungi that had evolved over millions of years. George Church worked on technology that sequenced H pylori, a nasty bug that causes ulcers, stomach cancer, etc. A buddy of mine suffered from it for 8 years, cured in 2006 by antibiotics. ( Thanks for that one george) Except that there is a herbal cure, wormwood, heck you could cure it with the right dose of real absinthe. (contains wormwood)
While i love biotechnology, mad scientists are everywhere,(creating glow in the dark anything, and giving seniors the ability to have children) stripping chemicals from every organism and continent, isolating them , and exposing them to bacteria individually. (as a solo chemical) That is why the bacteria are evolving resistance so quickly. They could quite literally be the death of us, if the bacteria evolve faster then our medicine chest does. (and they are, many double 5 times a day, if not more, while it takes us a hundred years for 5 generations, and western countries even longer)
My suggestion to any non neanderthal (they are many , and are the majority) reading this is that perhaps the many chemical model that plants have used to block bacteria from evolving resistance be investigated?
Doctors often prescribe 10-12 medications , but they are all simple ones. They prescribe separate ones to counteract "symptoms" which should be the first indicator they have no idea what they are doing in medicine. A symptom means something is wrong, not that things are working properly. (or perhaps the system is too corrupt to function)
I can cite three plants that are far more effective, and substantially less hazardous then their medical counterpart. (standardization be damned) Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), and as its name implies it was used to speed the healing of broken bones. ( roughly 400 chemicals) Gravel root (Eupatorium Purpureum) for kidney stones (often confused with the first one, but vastly different in its uses) and elderberries (sambucus niger, sambucus canadensis, sambucus racemosa) used as a flu remedy for over 400 years, and in my opinion beats tamiflu. (although it is listed as rivalling it for effectiveness, tamiflu has been implicated in the deaths of 12 children that had died in Japan from causes including heart attack, suicide, pneumonia and acute pancreatitis. Four had suffered a "sudden death", which was "an unusual phenomenon in otherwise healthy children". All had taken Tamiflu.)
I will take my caveman medicine over mad science thanks. And apologies george, the internet is unreliable at best, just like wikipedia. (none of the plants listed above are from internet sources , just books)
great comment. I don't mean that I agree with you exactly. Just that I enjoyed reading such a well written response. The notion that bacteria are evolving too quickly for us was and is probably true but I think in the future we will turn the tables with nano tech. I know ... that raises red flags all on its own but I am generally confident that we will prevail.
This is what happens when Science gets bored. Why can't we study things other than cloning humans and creating wild mutants with stem cells!?! Let's solve world hunger. Let's go to the moon. Why not invent a sustainable source of energy that could last thousands of years without dangerous waste products? Just saying...human cloning is a bad idea.
"Don't clone a Neanderthal baby"
~By Arthur Caplan, Special to CNN
I think that the most interesting aspect about this possibility is the effect it would have on cultures and how people view science...
If they do the procedure in Kansas, the State will go after the neanderthal father donor for child support.
Seriously, I could see a gene or two being harvested here. Hemophilia is one that I could easily imagine, being that it's from long before the gene was active...or so we think.
I don't think it would be feasible to introduce more than a few Neanderthal genes per human generation. The result would be, not a Neanderthal, but a human with a few additional Neanderthal genes. Even then, most of the offspring would probably fail to survive. In the most likely scenario, the human female who chose to be impregnated with a cross-species hybrid would experience nothing more than a miscarriage. Or a series of miscarriages, if she persisted in working with the ethically-challenged "scientists" doing the experiment.
But even aside from ethical issues, even aside from a lack of common sense about creating not-entirely-human babies, this idea is just not going to work. Humans are not suitable experimental animals. Factors like our slow development, our long gestation time and the small number of offspring per pregnancy, are just a few of the facts indicating that speculative experiments in human reproduction are a terrible idea from any point of view.
This is simply a way or breeding ready-made NRA Republicans. ;)