(Mirror Daily, United States) – A group of scientists claim that they have been successful in designing sheep embryos that contain human cells. The success means that science could soon be growing human organs inside sheep.
The discovery could boost the supply of organs and fix the many issues of organ rejection as the organs will be grown from the cells of patients receiving them. In the U.K., around 500 people die every year because they either fail to find a suitable organ donor or the transplant fails because of rejection.
Dr Pablo Ross, who works at the University of California, Davis, noted that even organs from twin donors don’t fix the rejection issue because the recipient’s immune system continues to attack the organ.
Ross is confident that growing organs inside animals could make organ transplants less risky and more available.
Bruce Whitelaw who works for the laboratory that created Dolly the sheep praised the breakthrough but added that there is a long way ahead before science can actually grow human organs inside sheep. He hailed the experiment as an “exciting ‘chimeric’ project.”
The new approach does not fit into the xenotransplantation category, or transplants of animal parts into humans. In those cases, rejection is still a huge problem.
Past experiments were able to grow organs from one species inside another species. For instance, one team grew rat organs inside mice, while another team inserted human cells into pig embryos. One in 100,000 cells in the pig experiment were considered human.
Those embryos also known as “chimeras” were grown for only 28 days.
The latest experiment was able to produce even more human cells in animal embryos – around one in 10,000 sheep cells was human. The team was also able to genetically modify those sheep embryos to never develop a pancreas, which could prompt the animals’ bodies to grow a human pancreas in return.
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