Genetically modified pigs with organs that can be transplanted into humans developed
Humans may be able to rely on pigs for life-saving transplants in the near future.
A team of Japanese scientists says they have developed pigs with genetically modified organs for human transplants.
The pigs are the first animals to have been developed for xenotransplantation, in which animal organs and tissues are successfully transplanted into humans.
The team, which includes researchers from Meiji University and Kyoto Prefectural University, hopes to supply the pigs to a private company by early next year, according to Japanese newspaper the Yomiuri Shimbun.
As it turns out, pigs are well-suited subjects for studying how certain diseases can be treated or prevented in humans.
That’s because pigs have a similar body size to that of humans.
Lead researcher Hiroshi Nagashima, who is a professor at Meiji University, has spent several years studying genetically modified pigs as models of human genetic diseases.
Now, he’s developed a way to grow organs inside the pig’s body that can be used for human transplant.
To do this, the scientists start by collecting induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from a patient.
Scientists then inject the human stem cells into ‘designer’ pig embryos, which had been genetically modified so that it lacked the ability to develop a pancreas.
“This created a ‘niche’ or ‘space’ that could be occupied later,” according to the study.
Stem cells then allow a human organ to grow inside the pig embryo.
While the study focused on creating a pancreas, the scientists say the process could be applied to a number of different organs.
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