Scientists Seek Human Organs Produced Inside The Growing Body Of An Animals Within A Year
Need a liver? Raise a sheep
In ancient mythology, chimeras were part animal, part human — imaginary creatures that took many forms. Now scientists are actually creating them. The new creations may look like sheep, but they are part human.
“They’re sheep still,” says Dr. Esmail Zanjani with the University of Nevada. “But they have significant amounts of human cells in their different organs.”
Zanjani creates them at the University of Nevada’s agricultural research station outside Reno. The main purpose is to produce a source of organs, especially livers, to transplant someday into humans.
Japanese experts set to debate human organs grown in animals
Japanese experts are set to discuss rules for experiments with animal-human embryos, as scientists seek permission for tests that could see human organs produced inside the growing body of an animal.
Researchers want to introduce a human stem cell into an animal embryo, to create a so-called “chimeric embryo”, which they can implant into an animal’s womb.
The hope is that this stem cell will grow into a fully-functioning human organ – a kidney or a liver, for example – as the animal matures.
This would mean when the creature is fully grown, the organ could be harvested from the animal and used for transplanting into a person in need.
“Experts will study what possibilities this kind of research will generate,” especially with regard to ethics and human dignity, a government official told AFP.
Ban on growing human organs in animals to be lifted
The government plans to lift a ban on basic scientific research to grow human internal organs in the bodies of other animals for potential use in transplants, raising concerns about compromising the dignity of human beings.
The proposed policy change was presented June 18 during a meeting of an expert panel under the government’s Council for Science and Technology Policy. It will open the door, for example, to experiments to engineer human pancreases and livers in pigs and other animals. Such tests will utilize advanced biotechnology such as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.
But the envisioned creation of animal-human chimeras, which have both human and nonhuman cells, could blur the boundary of humans and nonhumans.
A typical research program would use a fertilized pig egg, genetically modified to inhibit the formation of a pancreas, and grow it into an embryo. Injection of human iPS cells would turn it into an animal-human chimeric embryo.