The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Genetic Chimera

In Greek mythology there was a fire-breathing, three-headed she-monster with the body and head of a lion, a goat’s head coming from the lion’s back, and a serpent for a tail. Called KHIMAIRA (Chimera), the Greek hero, Bellerophon killed her. Today the chimera is no longer a myth but a reality. Here is the good, bad, and ugly of genetic chimera created in a laboratory.  Genetic Chimera The term genetic chimera refers to a single organism composed of two or more genetically different cells. There are innate (natural) plant and animal genetic chimeras. Human chimeras were rare, or so we thought. That condition may be much more common than we assume. Most human chimeras never know they have the condition. They may have a liver with a DNA that matches the rest of their body, but their kidneys have a different DNA. Synthetic chimera gain their unique genetic makeup through transfusion or transplantation. Human organ transplants create a synthetic chimera. You’ve probably seen a sensational crime story where the criminal escapes because of his or her chimera blood type. And you’ve probably seen the recent sensational science news about a lab created monkey-human chimera. Research Scientists created chimeric mice in […]

The Legacy of Dolly the Sheep May Be Your Future Health

The first mammal cloned from an adult cell, Dolly the sheep. In 1997, The Roslin Institute introduced Dolly to the world. It caused a frenzy of attention. In the twenty-five years since Dolly’s birth, we have cloned many more species of animals with little fanfare. In February 2021, scientists announced they’d successfully cloned the first U.S. endangered species, the black-footed ferret. The ferret is just one part of Dolly’s legacy. The other part of the legacy of Dolly the sheep may be your future health. The Life of Dolly the Cloned Sheep Born on July 5th 1996, Dolly’s white face confirmed she was a clone. The black-faced surrogate ewe who birthed her could not be her genetic mother. Scientists tested Dolly’s DNA when she was one. They discovered that her DNA telomeres (end caps) were shorter than expected. Scientists thought that since the cells used to create Dolly came from an adult sheep may have caused the abnormality. They thought the adult cells somehow prevented her telomeres from developing normally. At two, Dolly mated with a Welsh Mountain ram called David. Dolly gave birth to a female lamb in 1998,. She had twin lambs the next year and triplets in […]

Mixing Holiday Traditions With Science

Putting up the Christmas tree is one of my beloved holiday traditions. For many years, I went to a tree farm a couple of weeks before Christmas. We’d cut down a tree, bring it home, and decorate it. I wasn’t mixing holiday traditions with science back then. But the science of Christmas trees is fascinating.  The Traditions The Romans decorated their temples with fir trees for the festival of Saturnalia. Christians used fir trees as a sign of everlasting life with God. Many people credit the Germans with bringing the Christmas tree into their homes.  Records show that Martin Luther, a 16th century preacher, was one of the first to bring a Christmas tree into his house and put lights on it. Read more about the first Christmas trees. Oh Christmas Tree When shopping for a Christmas tree, we want the right shape, the right height, and color. We want the tree to hold on to its needles as long as possible. And we want the tree to look fresh for weeks. These are the traits Christmas tree growers want to foster in their trees. Fraser and noble firs are the most popular species for Christmas trees. Christmas trees are […]