Scientists grow human organs for transplant inside pigs
Scientists in the United States are trying to grow human organs inside pigs.
They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.
The embryos are part of research aimed at overcoming the worldwide shortage of transplant organs.
The team from University of California, Davis says they should look and behave like normal pigs except that one organ will be composed of human cells.
The human-pig chimeric embryos are being allowed to develop in the sows for 28 days before the pregnancies are terminated and the tissue removed for analysis.
Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist who is leading the research told me: “Our hope is that this pig embryo will develop normally but the pancreas will be made almost exclusively out of human cells and could be compatible with a patient for transplantation.”
But the work is controversial. Last year, the main US medical research agency, the National Institutes of Health, imposed a moratorium on funding such experiments.
The main concern is that the human cells might migrate to the developing pig’s brain and make it, in some way, more human.
Pablo Ross says this is unlikely but is a key reason why the research is proceeding with such caution: “We think there is very low potential for a human brain to grow, but this is something we will be investigating.”
His team has previously injected human stem cells into pig embryos but without first creating the genetic niche. Prof Ross said although they later found human cells in several parts of the developing foetus, they “struggled to compete” with the pig cells. By deleting a key gene involved in the creation of the pig pancreas, they hope the human cells will have more success creating a human-like pancreas.
Other teams in the United States have created human-pig chimeric embryos but none has allowed the foetuses to be born.
being grown in pigs would discount a few religions from wanting those organs eh?
“They have injected human stem cells into pig embryos to produce human-pig embryos known as chimeras.”
“The main concern is that the human cells might migrate to the developing pig’s brain and make it, in some way, more human.”