Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Stanford, CA, United States (4E) – Scientists from Stanford University and the University of California (UC) in Oakland have reported creating human-sheep hybrids or chimeras in a key advance toward growing human organs in animals.
Some 20 people in the United States die every day waiting for an organ transplant while over 115,000 people need a lifesaving organ transplant. A new patient is added to the national waiting list every 10 minutes.
Scientists have long known animal-grown human organs are a sustainable alternative to the dire shortage of human organs. The approach developed by American scientists might one day supply organs for transplantation in humans.
Researchers Hiro Nakauchi from Stanford and Pablo Ross from UC reported on the advance at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Austin, Texas.
They said their teams introduced adult human stem cells into early-stage sheep embryos. The stem cells were then returned to the sheep, where they grew for three more weeks. About one in every 10,000 cells in the sheep embryos is human.
For the approach to work, the embryos need about one percent of the cells to be human. The researchers believe their strategy could also lead to a cure for some forms of diabetes.
In theory, scientists could use a recipient’s own cells to tailor-make organs compatible with their bodies. This process ight reduce the chance of immune system rejection, according to the researchers.
“We have already generated a mouse pancreas in rats and then transplanted those in to diabetic mouse and were able to show almost a complete cure without any immunosuppressants,” said Nakauchi.
The next step will be to try this approach with human organs. Scientists are modifying sheep to develop without a pancreas, to see if human DNA will fill the gap.
The team is only allowed to develop their embryos for up to 28 days at a time. An extension up to 70 days might produce more convincing results.
Nakauchi said human-sheep chimeras are more difficult to produce than the successful rat-mice embryos. He has high hopes for the eventual success of these chimeras, however.
“It could take five years or it could take 10 years, but I think eventually we will be able to do this.”
Article – All Rights Reserved.
Provided by FeedSyndicate