First Hybrid Human-Pig Embryos Created Using Stem Cells

Posted: Jan 27 2017, 8:13pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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First Hybrid Human-Pig Embryos Created Using Stem Cells
This photograph shows injection of human iPS cells into a pig blastocyst. A laser beam (green circle with a red cross inside) was used to perforate an opening to the outer membrane (Zona Pellucida) of the pig blastocyst to allow easy access of an injection needle delivering human iPS cells. CREDIT: Courtesy of Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte
  • Scientists make First Hybrid Human-Pig Chimera Embryos only to Abort them Later On

In what was a nightmarish scenario, scientists made the first hybrid human-pig embryos only to abort them later on. This experiment raised many ethical concerns from various quarters of society.

Scientists have long held a surreal desire and that is the growing of human organs within animal bodies. Hearts, lungs and kidneys not to mention pancreas for donation purposes may be supplied in the future via this strategy.

A brief but chilling glance at this scenario was seen awhile ago. Via stem cell technology, human cells and tissues were implanted inside the embryos of pigs and cows. The experiment was mentioned in a journal.

However, the scientists still have a long way to go before this can be done on a practical level. What little has been done up until now is just preliminary and rudimentary in its scope.

Various hitches and glitches occur since animal tissues often react to and reject human tissues. The growth of full-fledged human organs in the bodies of animals still remains a dream. Yet the fact remains that this dream could easily become a nightmare anytime in the near future.

Species normally evolve separately from each other. It is a very long time span during which mutations and natural selection forces them to change for the better or for worse.

In the former case they may add certain features that help in their survival. In the case of the latter, they often go extinct. Imitating Nature is not an easy job.

Human beings cannot match its level of extreme complexity and superior intelligence. There is in fact just no comparison between the two. This sets the stage for being twice as careful in such experimentation since one wrong move and we could end up with monstrosities.

The project got off the ground as some scientists thought that they could make chimeras. Rats and mice were the original starting point for this game of science.

The pancreas of one was grown in the other and then re-transplanted back into the original animal’s body. Pluripotent stem cells were used in this experiment.

The recent experiment where a hybrid pig-human embryo was grown in a sow’s body only to be destroyed early on-wards by the scientists (for obvious reasons) sent many moralists and traditionalists into overdrive.

The ethical concerns are valid though. We don’t know where we are going with such things. They may backfire anytime. Besides the absurdity and strangeness of this whole set-up, it also enters the territory of animal cruelty.

Humankind must be very careful lest its abilities turn it as a species towards abnormality instead of in the direction of being stewards for the other species on the planet.

The findings of this study got published in the journal Cell.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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