Human-Pig Embryos Open a New Dimension to Organ Transplantation
As per stats released by the National Foundation for Transplants, 22 people die every day in the U.S. as they await a transplant. Scientists wanted to find a solution to this crises of organ donors by replacing human organs with that of pigs, considering the approximate similarity between the organ sizes. However, there was no solution to prevent the human immune system from rejecting the animal tissue. After years of research, scientists adopted the idea of using stem cells during an experiment, in January 2017. They added human stem cells into the embryonic cells of pigs and after days of investigation, discovered that the human cells were still growing inside the pig’s embryo. This is the first time in the history of science that a human-pig chimera has been created.
“This is the first scientific publication to achieve this result. This paves the way for significant advances in our understanding of cell lineage development in the embryo and hints towards future novel biotech applications.” said Professor Bruce Whitelaw, Professor of Animal Biotechnology. This experiment led to the findings that a human-pig hybrid could continue to develop inside a pig, which seemed beneficial to the future of organ transplantation.
However, a few ethical objections and concerns were raised with regards to the pertinent threat from intimate mixing of human and animal tissues, especially the fear of viruses jumping the species barrier. However, the concern of these hybrid animals developing human consciousness, posed to be a dilemma.
This experiment, though questionable, has aimed to fulfill the medical urgency of saving human lives through organ transplants.
The experiment has yet to pass the main challenge of forming a particular organ within the body of pigs, which could further be used in cases of human organ failure.
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