- Title: Scientists create human-pig hybrid embryo
- Date: 27th January 2017
- Summary: SHUSHAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FILE - MAY 06, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PIGS ON FARM
- Embargoed: 10th February 2017 23:17
- Keywords: scientists human pig embryo Salk Institute stem cells
- Location: UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION / SHUSHAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION / SHUSHAN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA00260UYUE3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:AUDIO ON INTERVIEWS AS INCOMING
Scientists at California's Salk Institute have developed a human-pig embryo, according to a report published in the journal "Cell" on Thursday (January 26). The hybrid embryo is being held as a breakthrough in the effort to introduce stem cells from one species into another during early-stage development and a step towards the goal of growing human organs inside of animals for people in need of an organ transplant.
"What we're doing is putting these human stem cells in a natural environment, inside a living animal. In this natural environment, they can grow, they can differentiate - in simple words, they can be educated to become a heart, a liver, or a pancreas. And this is something very exciting because for the first time, we can see how human cells can grow inside an animal," said Salk Institute professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte.
In the experiment, scientists injected stem cells into pig embryos, which were then placed into the wombs of adult pigs. After four weeks, the embryos were removed and scientists discovered that human cells had grown and developed alongside the pig's natural cells. According to the Salk Institute, "the results represent the first successful attempt of integrating human iPS cells into a large-animal species."
Salk Institute scientists had previously created other chimeras - creatures that are half one species, half another - after they injected rat stem cells into a mouse embryo. That mouse developed and grew a rat pancreas inside of it.
Pigs have long been a go-to for scientists for potential organ harvesting, as the animal's organ size is comparable to that of a human's. But Belmonte warned that having pigs born with human organs growing inside of them is still a long time away.
"The possibility of growing human cells and tissues inside an animal is an exciting first step for the dream of generating tissues and organs for transplantation into humans. We're still far away. We still need to do and work in the laboratory to understand the interaction between donor and host cells."
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