A message to the laboratory mouse
Oh chimera, you. Look at how cute and fuzzy and absolutely adorable you are. Other people have freaked out, finding out that you are a chimera, an oddity made of cells from two species, being part mouse and part human, but I think you’re just dandy. Of chimeras, you have it pretty lucky, looking like a normal mouse. Think about how the geep must have felt, being seen as a freak of nature. Do you think people would freak out less if they knew how normal chimeras could look? Would they still be disgusted by seeing chimeras that were unlike any animal they had ever seen before?
People underestimate the importance of using chimeras in scientific research. They limit the possibilities to of chimeras to saving endangered species (by acting as a surrogate), or of creating entire human organs, but the implications of chimeras go much farther than that. Chimeras like you have been made as laboratory animals for decades, to model human biology and disease. The significance of chimeras has been huge in research labs, with us, for example, now having the ability to see how human tissues can be affected without using human beings. Yes, we did infect you by transplanting diseased human tissue into your body, and the tissue has been incorporated into your body. You see, by doing so, we now have tumor models we can manipulate, in order to understand cancer mechanisms and to test therapeutic possibilities to cure and treat human cancer. If you wanted to know, some of your fellow mouse-friends are also chimeras. Other human-animal interspecific chimeras have been created by grafting human cells and tissues into the embryos, fetuses, or adults of vertebrate model organisms. The derivation of human embryonic stem (hES) cells are what has created the opportunity for us to use these pluripotent cells to generate human-animal chimeras.
Apart from now having cancer, we have given you a wonderful life in the lab and treated you humanely and with respect. Your mental capacities have not been made more human through the procedure and for all you know, you’re just a normal mouse. But you are much more than that. You are an answer to curing diseases and saving lives. Thank you for your sacrifice, for your death from cancer will be for the sake of humanity.