Scientists create sheep-human hybrid for organ transplant research
A team of researchers from various universities have succeeded in creating sheep an embryo that has human cells.
The results of the study were presented during the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, held between Feb. 15 and 19, according to The Guardian.
The sheep-human hybrids were more than 99 percent sheep with very small traces of human stem cells. The embryos were then destroyed 28 days after their creation.
“The contribution of human cells so far is very small. It’s nothing like a pig with a human face or human brain,” said stem cell biologist Hiro Nakauchi of Stanford University.
Scientists created the hybrids as part of an ongoing study to produce “harvestable” human organs inside engineered animals. They hope having specially “grown” organs readily available would lower cases of rejection in organ transplants.
“Even today the best matched organs, except if they come from identical twins, don’t last very long because with time the immune system continuously is attacking them,” explains reproductive biologist Pablo Ross of the University of California, Davis.
The scientists are not lost to the ethical questions raised by the research. Ross explains he also harbors concerns about the kind of creatures that may be created should the amount of human cells be increased. An animal with human cells created just to have its organs harvested would be controversial, to say the least.
However, Nakauchi remains optimistic that human organs will eventually be grown and harvested from animals. Alfred Bayle /ra
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