Monkeys with AIDS and Babies with Stem Cells

So monkeys–specifically, sooty mangabeys–carry the AIDS virus. Scientists in Georgia want to know why these monkeys don’t get sick. They can pass the disease on to other creatures who do get sick. In order to find out why these particular monkeys don’t get sick, the researchers have to expose them to viruses and do “invasive” surgeries. The problem? After the Yerkes National Primate Research Center started gathering and housing a colony of the sooty monkeys, they were placed on the endangered list.

The Yerkes center is trying to get around the law by promising to support sooty monkeys in the wild. Naturally, animal-rights activists aren’t happy with the trade-off.

What interested me was this line: “Also, [activists] argue, experimentation with sooties may not be fruitful.” I’m wondering if the same activists who worry about harming monkeys to help humans have the same qualms about harvesting stem cells (read: killing) from fertilized eggs (read: babies) to help adult humans. Maybe someone could call around and do a survey…

Timotheos

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