New study reveals pigs could grow human organs

June 21, 2011 by Deborah Braconnier report

(PhysOrg.com) -- At the annual European Society of Human Genetics conference, a group of researchers presented their newly discovered technique that may soon enable pigs to grow human organs for transplant.

Lead researcher and the director of the Center for and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Tokyo Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi described the new technique called blastocyst complementation.

Using mice and rats the researchers injected rat’s into mice which had been genetically altered so they were unable to produce their own organs. The mice instead grew rat organs.

The stem cells used are called pluripotent stem cells and are adult stem cells that can be taken from tissue and grow in any kind of cell within the body. These cells were injected into the mice embryos that were unable to grow a pancreas, an organ responsible for producing insulin. When the mice grew into adulthood, they displayed no signs of diabetes and the rat stem cells had developed into a pancreas.

The ultimate goal of the researchers is to take this technique and grow human organs inside . If this technique works it would be able to minimize the risk of human transplant rejection because the organs could be grown using the patient’s own stem cells. This technique would also work to create a plentiful supply or organs for transplantation.

Using the mice as an example, human stem cells could be used to create a new pancreas to be transplanted into diabetic patients.

Nakauchi is currently looking for approval to use human stem cells for further research. This is the first time that blastocyst complementation has been shown to work, so the idea of growing human organs is promising. Ethically, researchers are not able to make an human embryo organ deficient, so in order to test the idea of growing organs, another animal needed to be used.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

4 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Jun 21, 2011
Why would you ever want to do this given the invention lf the 3D printer. That technology will be fully viable within the next decade for printouts of, well, whatever we need organ wise. Why make it easier for viruses to jump a species gap when we already have alternative (and quicker) means that are/will be available soon.
Seems like a waste of time IMO.
ziphead
not rated yet Jun 21, 2011
Why would you ever want to do this given the invention lf the 3D printer. That technology will be fully viable within the next decade for printouts of, well, whatever we need organ wise. Why make it easier for viruses to jump a species gap when we already have alternative (and quicker) means that are/will be available soon.
Seems like a waste of time IMO.


What if you were not so Lucky Brandon and needed transplant in a few years or so?
Still wast of time IYO?
NickFun
not rated yet Jun 21, 2011
There are ethical dilemmas as well. If the pigs are producing human organs then aren't they at least part human and should be granted the same rights as humans?
LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Jun 24, 2011
@ziphead - I'm not against transplants (a bone marrow transplant saved my son's life, albeit stem cell which is simply an IV), don't get me wrong. I simply would never personally consider an organ that was grown in a pig.
To answer your question, yes, I would still consider it a waste of time....but I'm not your normal Joe...I could care less if I died as I typed right now...to me its not to be feared, its to be expected, and frankly, I look forward to it after my life (and no I do NOT think I'm going any place after death, so this is not based on any religious bs, and I laugh at folks that do). Of course if the god fallacy turns out to be true, I'm boned....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.