A team in Stanford University has successfully grown an embryo containing both human and sheep cells in a surrogate. They kept the embryo alive for three weeks; an incredible feat that paves the way for scientists to begin growing human organs outside of the human body. If such a development occurs then humans could live in a world where transplants are no longer dependent on waiting lists, and may even offer a cure for diabetes.
Scientists describe this breakthrough as the first step towards fast and unlimited supply of organs for medical transplants. Speaking at an annual conference Dr Hiro Nakuachi told attendants that he was hopeful these organs could be ready for the general public in 5 to 10 years.
https://t.co/7S5wZP9ojZ Scientists at Stanford are working on human-sheep hybrid to grow organs for transplants.— 𝓒𝓱𝓻𝓲𝓼 𝓝𝓮𝓪𝓵𝓮 🗯️ (@onion2k) 19 February 2018
Interestingly my imagination went for a human-sheep centaur rather than a wooly person. I doubt it'd be either of those.
“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,” he said.
“When it comes to human-sheep it seems more difficult. So we would like to proceed a little longer and this time use organ-deficient embryos.
“It could take five years or it could take 10 years but I think eventually we will be able to do this.”
Sheep-human hybrid developed in lab in breakthrough to solve organ donor shortage https://t.co/9yljczBEau— Gail in Aus (@SaveAustralia1) 19 February 2018
The next step for now, however, is to successfully grow a human pancreas in a sheep. This would be achieved by removing the segment of DNA in the sheep embryo that is responsible for the development of the pancreas and then substituting it with the equivalent from the human code. This would result in a lamb born with a human pancreas that can be removed and then transplanted into a person with type 1 diabetes.
Meanwhile, other scientists have called Hiro’s claims into question, saying that while he may be able to grow the organ, the question of transplanting it into a person is not yet answered.
“Even if they succeed in replacing all pancreatic cell types in the sheep with human cells, the blood vessels within the pancreas will be sheep derived
“The organs could not be used for transplants into humans without triggering the immune system to reject them – and this would probably be a very fast rejection,” said another scientist.