Scientists create the first hybrid Human-pig embryo that could address the shortage of organs for transplantation in the future

For the first time, scientists have successfully created a hybrid human-pig embryo  which may address the shortage of organs for transplantation in the future. Organ shortage is a serious problem which scientists are trying to address since a long time. Around the world, there is plenty shortage of organs for transplantation. According to US department of Health and Human services, around 22 people die every day due to the shortage of organs for transplantation. Scientists have long been trying to grow organs inside Petri dishes but these are very much different from the organs grown inside living thing. 

Scientists create the first hybrid Human-pig embryo that could address the shortage of organs for transplantation in the future

The major challenge in organ transplantation is that the organ gets rejected after transplanting in the patient by his immune system (graft rejection). To overcome this, the patients are administered with immunosuppressive drugs. Scientists from Salk Institute of SanDiego have achieved a major breakthrough wherein they are able to create a first Viable hybrid embryo that is partly Human and partly pig for the first time in history.

Researchers are interested in introducing the stem cells from the human cells and then introduce them into early embryos of animals such as sheep pig and cows. Using this method, researchers hope to produce human organs like heart, kidney, pancreas or for that case any organ which can be used for transplantation. Scientists hope that one day the method can be used to produce whole organs made of human cells so that when they are transplanted they are not rejected by the recipient's immune system.

How is Human pig hybrid created?



  • Scientists created the hybrid by injecting stem cells of humans into pig embryos and then implanting into the sow and allowed to grow.
  • They took the stem cells from the skin of baby boys who have undergone circumcision (wherein the foreskin is removed from human penis)
  • The researchers injected the different forms of stem cells to identify the best-surviving cells. It was found that pluripotent stem cells were found to survive the longer time.
  • After 4 weeks of implantation, it was found that the stem cells develop into precursors of various tissue types like heart liver, neurons, and the tissues contained, only small fraction of developing pig was made from human cells.

A similar study was carried by the researchers earlier using the same method where they successfully performed an interspecies organ transplant and created a hybrid mouse rat embryo. They grew mouse pancreas inside rat embryo and later transplanted the pancreas into diabetic mice. The new pancreas was able to cure diabetes in mice without getting rejected by the mice immune system.

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After giving few immunosuppressive treatments, it took only a few days for the mice to recover and was in a healthy and normal state. Although the study looks promising there has been questions raised from the ethical point of view about creating human-animal chimeras and about a possible fear that stem cells may be used to produce animal with a human brain.

Dr.Izpisua Belmonte said that a period of 28 days was enough to know the understand the process without raising ethical concerns about mature hybrid animals.

According to professor Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader, The Francis Crick Institute ven though the research is successful in few places more research has to be done to have clear idea of several areas.

The Research was published in the journal cell



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