Anyone who violates the new law could spend five years in prison and face up to a quarter million dollars in fines. Other states, including Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arizona have also banned research into chimeras.
National governments have also stepped in. The United Kingdom approved chimera research in 2008, when it granted a Newcastle University stem cell scientist Lyle Armstrong a permit to use cow eggs filled with human DNA to develop therapies for Parkinson's disease and stroke victims. (All cow DNA would be removed before the human DNA would be inserted.)
Canada bans all chimera research, but the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009 failed to pass the U.S. Congress.
Fears about new technology are nothing new, said Platt; the advent of railroads sparked controversy about how fast the human body was meant to travel. Nor are they unnatural; people fear what they don't know. But the potential of chimera research to save millions of lives should also be added to the equation.
"Where it becomes a problem is if government responses with undue constraints that are not justified," said Platt.