10/06/2034 8:20 AM ET

NEWS

Varantia Stemsor Executive Targeted In Chimera Scandal

Hugo Johanssen
Science Editor, Huntington Courier

CC0 1.0 Image by abiralo | Writer image: CC BY 4.0 Face by David Jones | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.

Vincent Krishnamurthy, Senior Vice President in charge of Special Developments for embattled firm Varantia Stemsor, was admitted to a New York hospital today, the apparent victim of an assault.

Witnesses described a bloodied Krishnamurthy collapsing after being struck several times with a blunt object outside his apartment building on E 83rd Street, on New York's Upper East Side. He was reportedly later transferred to Mt Sinai Hospital.

Krishnamurthy has been at the center of the turmoil engulfing Varantia Stemsor since the recent release of multiple videos alleging the company's involvement in advanced "chimera" research.


The Videos


The footage - captured and released by a self-proclaimed ex-employee of Varantia Stemsor going by the username Karona618 - displays a variety of creatures with hybrid appearances being subjected to research procedures.

Initial footage released on JooClip and Youtube on Monday, showed what looked like a human male with feathering across his body and an undeveloped beak, being injected with an unknown substance and in some distress. The remainder of the short clip focused on a different specimen which appeared to be female, with stunted limbs and possessing hooves. It appeared lifeless and the footage showed it being transported via wheelbarrow and disposed of via incineration.

Importantly, Varantia Stemsor's logo was spotted on several items of stationery in this first video.

A clip released Tuesday showed an operation on a human-like figure with scaly skin on its legs and a short tail; several organs were seemingly extracted before the video cut to the specimen being disposed of.

Wednesday saw footage of a cow giving birth to what appeared to be a human baby without eyes. It was subsequently injected and a few seconds of footage followed showing a medical procedure being performed on the specimen, which appeared to show different body parts being extracted.

Yesterday's release showed perhaps the most controversial and confronting imagery of the series: scientists attempting to communicate verbally with a creature which appeared to possess the body of a human and the facial features (including elongated nose) of a canine. Staff are overheard discussing the age (fifteen) of the subject.

More footage was promised but has yet to be uploaded.

The videos have become the subject of enormous public interest, with some denouncing them as elaborately-staged fakes. However, multiple third parties in the field of special affects have already commented in favor of the veracity of the videos. Perhaps most notably Clayton Szu-Shen, former visual effects chief for Pixar, who spoke to ABC two days ago.

"I've looked at these, forensically, and extensively, and I can find no evidence of digital manipulation or creation at all. Friends I've spoken to - guys with decades in the industry - also can't find anything to suggest this footage has been digitally touched in any way," said Szu-Shen, while speaking to Melissa Grey on Nightline.

Several notable Hollywood costume designers have also weighed in, stating their belief that the figures in the videos are real, and not wearing any kind of prosthetic or other enhancements.

Jim Calway, who has worked in Hollywood costuming since the 1970's, gave his opinion in a Wednesday New York Times piece on the videos.

"That's not costuming of any kind. That's real. That's real creatures. There's nothing to suggest, that I would look for, of any type of makeup, or prosthetics or whatever."


The Fallout


The videos have cast a huge cloud over the field of medical research, calling into question the entire notion of medical ethics today.

Public backlash has been fierce and constant since the first video was released, and has involved very explicit threats against Varantia Stemsor's leadership. It is believed Krishnamurthy rejected police protection, even after he received several messages threatening him and his family.

Varantia Stemsor's parent company, Grannidon Barkleigh Medcorp, has expressly rejected the videos outright as an elaborate fabrication.

In a statement issued Wednesday, CEO Rob Rossbaum said:

"This is clearly an elaborate hoax, designed specifically to damage Varantia and GBM's reputation and possibly lower stock prices. Its makers have used cheap effects to shock and disgust the viewer, while ignoring the fact that the footage they have created is harming efforts to do solid, ethically-sound research into diseases killing people worldwide."

Rossbaum issued another statement the same day announcing a full investigation into Varantia Stemsor's work in the field of medical research.

The White House was forced into the middle of the issue by late Monday; a petition demanding action was started midday, and by 5.00 p.m. it had already garnered 960,000 signatures, well above the 100,000 in thirty days required for the White House to respond. The petition is now at 14,580,000 signatures and climbing.

By Wednesday both the House of Representatives and the Senate had announced committee investigations. Yesterday saw the nearly unprecedented step taken of both houses dropping their investigations in favor of a special joint committee: the Joint Committee on Biological Hybrid Research. The committee will be headed by noted Republican firebrand Paul David Blooming (R-MS).

There are fears conservatives will use the videos to launch an attack through Congress, halting or severely restricting research. Human-based stem cell research, advanced brain-machine interfacing, Abortion Product Harvesting (APH), even abortion itself, could be on the table according to concerned members of the medical community.

NARAL's National Communications Director, Dr. Andrea McReille was unwavering in her concern yesterday during a press conference.

"What we have seen in the recent VS footage frightens and alarms us all. But whether or not the footage is real, we cannot and will not let this issue be used to deprive millions of American women their right to a safe and legal abortion. Republican leadership is on notice that their tactics are both well-known and anticipated."

In the past few days the AMA, CDC, NIH, AMSA and many prominent medical schools have all come out publicly in favor of ethically sound research.


Chimera


Federal funding in the area of human-animal hybrid research was banned until 2017, when the NIH, after public consultation, decided to reauthorize spending in the area of chimera research.

Despite that decision, no actual law has existed in the US banning it. Sporadic efforts have arisen questioning the ethical dilemmas involved, perhaps reaching their zenith with President Bush's 2006 State of the Union, in which he advocated for legislation banning the practice.

The first publicly reported human-animal hybrid occured in 2003, when researchers at China's Shanghai Second Medical University announced they had created a human-rabbit embryo.

In 2007 University of Nevada scientists successfully birthed a sheep with part-human blood.

2008 saw researchers at Britain's Newcastle University successfully created an embryo by inserting human DNA into a cow egg. The embryo only survived three days.

Research staff at the University of Texas, in 2017 published results of a cow being born with a kidney which was intended for use in a human transplant, before the animal died.

There are many methods currently available to researchers wishing to create a human-animal hybrid for research purposes, most of which involve inserting human DNA into a non-human egg or fetus, in order to produce either an animal with human organs capable of being transplanted, or a viable (animal) test subject for research into diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and HIV.

It is also hoped that future battles against as yet unknown pathogens may be waged with more speed and efficacy with chimeric animals at researchers' disposal, leading to fewer human deaths.
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