Growing Human Organs in Animals
- 02 Aug 2019
- 1 min read
Scientists in Japan have received the permission of the government to try growing human organs in animals.
- The research led by Hiromitsu Nakauchi, a professor of genetics at Stanford University, is the first of its kind.
- The research involves generating animal embryos — mice, rats or pigs — that lack a particular organ such as a pancreas.
- The modified embryos are then implanted with human “induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS)” cells that can grow into the missing pancreas.
- The embryos would be transplanted into wombs where they could theoretically be carried to term with a functioning human pancreas.
- Implanting animal embryos with human cells creates what is known as a chimera- an entity with both animal and human cells.
- The process throws up complex ethical issues, particularly over concerns that it may not be possible to completely control which organs are formed in the animal by the human iPS cells.
- Benefit: This experiment may lead to a future where human organs for transplant could be grown inside animals.