The Chimera was, according to Greek mythology, a monstrous fire-breathing creature composed of the parts of three animals – a lion, a snake and a goat. The term chimera has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative or implausible.
A person who has more than one set of DNA is also called a chimera, and the condition is called chimerism.
“A baby’s DNA can end up in the mother’s bloodstream, because they are linked together through the placenta,” explains Melissa Parisi, a paediatric researcher with the U.S. National Institutes of Health. “The reverse is also true: A baby can acquire some of the mother’s DNA, in a condition known as micro-chimerism.”
It has been known for some time that, during pregnancy, foetal cells end up circulating within the mother’s bloodstream. A relatively new discovery, however, is that these foetal cells don’t just remain in the blood stream but travel to organs such as the heart or brain. Until recently foetal micro-chimeric cells which travelled to the maternal brain had only been seen in mice. But a new study shows that micro-chimeric cells occur in humans as well.
To detect the micro-chimeric cells in the maternal brain, scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle performed PCR analysis on tissue from 59 autopsied female brains. They found in 63 percent of the brains genes that are unique to the Y-chromosome, indicating they originated from a male, thus, micro-chimeric cells from a male foetus the women had given birth to at some point in their lives. Micro-chimeric cells persist in the maternal blood stream for years after pregnancy.
What’s fascinating about these foetal cells is that they resemble pluripotent stem cells – they have the ability to become heart or brain cells. What this means functionally is still uncertain. But the potential for these so-called foetal micro-chimeric cells to incorporate and actually help repair maternal tissue is a new and exciting area of medical research.
Previous research in rats has shown micro-chimeric cells from the foetus migrating to the maternal heart which had been injured. A kind of trans-placental stem cell transplant, the foetal cells selectively targeted the injured area where they differentiated into several types of cardiac cells and aided in its repair. Another study in mice showed foetal micro-chimeric cells migrated to the maternal brain where they became neurons.
From a scientific perspective, the bond between mother and child just got stronger, and even more complex.
Interesting isn’t it?!
I have been puzzling over the Assumption recently. There is no direct mention of it in scripture and at first glance it seems to have little importance in terms of our salvation through Christ. The only real way i could make sense of it was to relate it to Mary’s immaculate conception (not to be confused with Jesus’ conception which is called the incarnation). When Mary was conceived by her parents, God did something unique – He allowed her to be conceived without original sin.
There are many arguments for and against this statement – my favourite being that if Mary was carrying original sin then she would be in need of salvation from her own Son. This would mean that it would be in her interests to carry and give birth to Him. In fact it would be true to say that by agreeing to be His Mother she would have been working for her own salvation – and as every good protestant knows – it is impossible to gain salvation through works. Wouldn’t it be more fitting for her to agree to be the mother of Jesus purely out of love? Where there was nothing in it for her (as such). Would it even have been a free choice on her part if she knew her own salvation depended on her “Fiat”?
Would it be possible for God to unite so intimately with a human being in this way if there was the issue of sin involved? Mary and Jesus’ cells were in each others bodies – crossing the placental barrier. If Mary was a sinner, and her genetics were part of Jesus’ body, would He still be regarded as the spotless lamb? Just a thought…
So lets assume for a second that Mary WAS conceived without sin. That would mean that she was not bound to the statement “For the wages of sin is death…” – (Romans 6:23) So did she die or not? We don’t officially know. But if she was sinless then St. Paul’s statement suggests that there would be no need for her to die. There has never been any hint of a grave, or any remains, or any accounts or even stories of her death in over 2000 years – why?
Jesus ascended through His own divine power, and Mary too would have been assumed through His power – not through her own, as she doesn’t have any divine power. So the question we need to ask ourselves is: Did Jesus allow His Mother to be assumed, body and soul, into heaven? Or would He have her body decay? Would that even be possible if His cells were in Her body?
And anyway… what happened to Mary’s cells within Jesus’ body during the resurrection?
From a theological perspective, the bond between mother and child just got stronger, and even more complex.
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