Scientist created 'Human-Pig Hybrid' by stem cell technology

First human-pig embryos open route to growing transplant organs in chimeras

Dr Wu said: "The flawless situation is where we have human cells contributing only to the organs where we want them to go".

Commenting on the inefficiency, Prof Belmonte said: "Humans and pigs are separated by a long time in evolution". In order to generate large human size organs pig is ideal. There has been a lot of interest in recent years in creating animal/human chimeras - the process of a DNA molecule with sequences derived from two or more different organisms, formed by laboratory manipulation.

The team set out to create chimeras with both cows and pigs, but ended up proceeding only with pigs - approximately 3,500 of them. A research paper published in the journal Nature showed how a functioning pancreas grown in a rat could be inserted into a mouse and cure diabetes, which had been induced by the researchers.

Of the 2,075 embryos implanted, 186 developed successfully.

A previous experiment allowed the development of a pancreas, a heart and eyes, collecting rat embryos and implanting them into mice.

The researchers ultimately found that an "intermediate" form of these stem cells grew best within the pig embryos. Wu says there's no reason we shouldn't believe the same might hold true for humans.

The team followed guidelines issued by the International Society for Stem Cell Research. If either of these two events occur, Wu says, "automatically they will self destruct physically". And pigs and humans are much more distantly related than rats and mice. Pigs gestate three times as rapidly as people. "We estimate [each had] about one in 100,000 human cells", Wu says.

Even before that is achieved, he said, putting human cells in animals could pay off for studies of how genetic diseases develop and for screening potential drugs.

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The Salk team who are working on this is very much enthusiastic to make humanized pancreases, hearts and livers in pigs.

By injecting rat cells into mice at the embryonic stage, researchers managed to create mice that grew several rat organs, including one - the gallbladder - that exists in rats but had ceased to grow in mice for 18 million years.

The pig-human embryos were allowed to develop to 28 days (the first trimester of a pig pregnancy) before being removed.

History's first pig-human hybrids have been grown in a lab, stoking fears of a porcine mutant apocalypse. Since the generated organ had its genesis in the stem cells from the patient himself, there is very low risk for an immune rejection of the new organ. The latest results show that indeed, despite the evolutionary distance, man and pig may share some conserved signals that direct embryo cells to start turning into different types of cells.

Their findings in interspecies chimeras are valuable for future research. "We've introduced human cells into animal models to create models of human diseases and used them as research tools for decades now", Wolinetz said. These animals are conformed by a mix of human and pig cells, producing an unseen chimera-like specimen. But last summer (August 2016), the US government said it planned to lift the moratorium on the use of federal funding for such research in January.

They terminated the embryos before any human-animal mixture, known as a chimera after the cross-species figures of Greek mythology, could be born.

A significant objection is the opportunity for viruses to more easily jump a species barrier which was previously closed to them.

"At this point, we wanted to know whether human cells can contribute at all to address the "yes or no" question", he says. The researchers could have let it go on longer, but doing that might have had ethics and animal welfare implications that nobody really understands yet. Though as a philosopher, it might be "fun" for him, it's not a wise or practical thing to do for policy.

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