A group of scientists at the Harvard Medical School is looking for a courageous volunteer who would be enthusiastic to give birth to a modern day Neanderthal baby.
The team is headed by Professor George Church who hopes to reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and restore to life the extinct species which died off 33,000 years ago.
“Now I need an adventurous female human,” said George Church of Harvard Medical School. “It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.”
He believes that also popular culture has portrayed Neanderthals as stupid, wild and brutish. Many evidence suggests that they were probably as intelligent as our own species, he says.
How it Will Be Done:
Church is one of the inventors of the Human Genome Project that planned the human genetic code. He is also one of the foremost developers of the field of synthetic biology. He confirmed that he has collected and analyzed enough DNA from bone fragments to create an artificial reconstruction. Church then will inject this DNA into human stem cells, and later inject those stem cells into a fertilized embryo. Church believes that the stem cells, with Neanderthal DNA, would hijack the DNA of the embryo and lead to the development of a Neanderthal instead of a human.
Philippa Taylor of the Christian Medical Fellowship said “It is hard to know where, to begin with the ethical and safety concerns.”
In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, Church sets out his weak rationale for the project.
“Neanderthals might think differently than we do. They could even be more intelligent than us,” he said.
“When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet, it’s believable that their way of thinking could be advantageous.”
Experts worry that neo-Neanderthals might lack the immunity to survive, and some fear that the process might lead to deformity.
There is also uncertainty over how they would fit into today’s society. Bioethicist Bernard Rollin of Colorado State University said; “I don’t think it’s fair to put people…into a circumstance where they are going to be ridiculed and possibly feared.”
“The HFEA now has the reputation of being the first regulator in the world to approve this uncertain and dangerous technology,”said Anne Scanlan of the nonprofit group LIFE. “It has ignored the warnings of over a hundred scientists worldwide and given permission for a procedure which could have damaging far-reaching implications for human beings.”