Pigs could grow human organs in stem cell breakthrough
Human organs could be grown inside pigs for use in transplant operations following research using stem cells.
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
9:15AM BST 19 Jun 2011
Scientists have found they can create chimeric animals that have organs belonging to another species by injecting stem cells into the embryo of another species. The researchers injected stem cells from rats into the embryos of mice that had been genetically altered so they could not produce their own organs, creating mice that had rat organs. The researchers say the technique could allow pigs to grow human organs from patient's stem cells for use as transplants. By using a patient's own stem cells it could help to reduce the risk of the transplanted organ being rejected while also providing a plentiful supply of donor organs. Current organ shortages mean that patients must endure long waiting lists for transplants.
Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi, director of the centre for stem cell biology and regenerative medicine at the University of Tokyo in Japan and who led the research, said: "Our ultimate goal is to generate human organs from induced pluripotent stem cells. "The technique, called blastocyst complementation, provides us with a novel approach for organ supply. We have successfully tried it between mice and rats. We are now rather confident in generating functional human organs using this approach." Read More
It’s unfortunate that this exciting medical breakthrough will be challenged by animal rights activists that would rather see a pig live than a human being. The idea that livestock are equal to human beings is one that groups like the HSUS and PETA try to sell. This has the potential to save millions of lives and it’s vital that we keep our eye on what’s truly important.