Human Organs Could Be Grown By Scientists Using Pigs
Thanks to stem cells, human organs can now be grown in pigs bodies to be then used in transplants, according to a new study. Researchers created chimeras animals, which can bear organs from other species by injecting stem cells in the embryo stage of the animal.
Scientists have injected rat stem cells into a mouse embryo that was genetically modified so that it can not create its own organs. So they created mice that have rats organs.
The technique may allow pigs to form organs created from human stem cells, organs that can be transplanted later. By using stem cells of patients, the risk for a transplant to be rejected might be reduced and in the same time this technique can represent an abundant source of organs donors. Today, the shortage of organs for transplantation is leading to a long waiting lists.
Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi, director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Tokyo in Japan, said that “our ultimate goal is to generate functional organs from induced pluripotent stem cells”.
“The technique, known as blastocyst complementation, can offer a new approach for the supply of organs. I tried this technique successfully between mice and rats. We are confident in generating functional human organs using this approach.”
Professor Nakauchi and his team of researchers, who presented the study at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics, used a type of adult stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells that can be taken from tissue such as skin, which can develop into any cell type found in the body.
Researchers injected cells taken from rat tissues into mouse embryos that could not grow their own pancreas, a organ that produces important hormones in the body, such as insulin. When mice reached adulthood, they showed no signs of diabetes and had a pancreas which was almost entirely formed of stem cells of the rat.
If this technique would use human stem cells, it could represent a way to treat patients with diabetes, providing a way to replace their own pancreas. Professor Nakauchi hopes to test the growth techniques of other organs and he hopes to receive permission to use human stem cells. They have managed to produce pigs able to generate human blood by injecting human stem cells in pig fetuses.
Professor Chris Mason from the Department of Regenerative Medicine from the College London University, said that “there is no doubt that cure diabetes is a challenge, but to support this technique are required sustainable resources and a series of major funding for testing and development. “