Scientists who want grow human organs in the bodies of animals are on their way to getting the OK from the Japanese government, according to Phys.org.
The scientists, led by Hiromitsu Nakauchi of the University of Tokyo, have developed a process for forming a “chimeric embryo” by planting a human stem cell into an animal embryo (usually from a pig). This will make a human-animal hybrid that they would use to grow human organs.
They want to plant the embryo in a female pig’s womb, inducing pregnancy and creating a pig with a human organs (say, a pancreas or liver). The organs would then mature inside the hybrid offspring as it grows until it is slaughtered and scientists harvest the organs and transplant them into a human body.
So far, creating the chimeric embryo is legal, but implanting it in an animal’s womb is not. Right now, a Japanese regulatory body is deciding whether to lift the ban on implanting chimeric embryos in animals, and the scientists are confident they can successfully grow a pig with human organs within a year if they win approval.
“We have long used pigs in medicine, too. So they are thought to be acceptable to human bodies,” Nakauchi told Phys.org. The article also paraphrased Nakauchi as saying “pig insulin has been used to treat diabetics and that pigs’ cardiac valves and pancreas have been transplanted successfully into humans.”
Is it scientifically feasible? I guess we will just have to wait and see. And also wonder what a human-pig hybrid might look like.
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