Scientists of Stanford University have successfully transferred human stem cells into sheep embryos, which can pave a way towards growing transplant organs inside of animals.
“We have this amazing life-saving technology right now with organ transplant, but there aren’t enough for everybody,” said Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist and co-author of the research from the University of California.
“The idea here is that we would like to grow this organ from the patient’s own cells.”
“Growing an organ in a lab has proven to be a very difficult task but animals grow their organs every time and they always do it right.”
Researchers suggested that if this discovery proves to be successful; it could reduce the wait times for organ transplant and should improve the success rate of the transplant as the organ would be made from the cells of the person who needs it.
“We can grow a mouse pancreas inside a rat, then take a cell from that mouse pancreas and put it back in a diabetic mouse and basically cure diabetes without really requiring immunosuppression,” Ross said.
Human stem cells were successfully transferred into early sheep embryos using stem cells and genomic editing technologies – a breakthrough for the research.
The research requires one percent of the animal embryo’s cells to be human to successfully start growing human organs.
Since both pigs and sheep have organs that are similar in shape and size to humans and can also grow from an embryo to an adult quickly, the wait times for the patients will also be shorter.
Ross said that though this technology may take years to fully develop and put into action, things are moving fast and organ transplant would become possible for more people.
Ross believes that the grown organs may also help evade problems like diabetes.
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