Half man – half animal hybrids are no longer creatures of myth and legend. Stanford scientists have taken the next step in highly-debated science to create a human hybrid with a sheep. And now their results are going viral to heat up the cloning debate even further.
Aiming to assist the medical field with new techniques of growing viable organs, the scientists hope to end the barbaric practice of placing people on a transplant list.
Being able to produce new human organs inside a sheep, the thousands of afflicted people who need an organ transplant may be able to receive a personalized organ. Hopes have been expressed that it could be a complete cure for type I diabetes.
Researchers from Stanford University and the University of California presented their work at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, on Sunday. The scientists hope that their findings will help create a sustainable alternative to organ transplants.
Every 10 minutes in America, a new person is added to the national waiting list for a life-saving transplant. There are approximately 115,000 people who are waiting to receive a vital organ.
As a result of the lack of readily available organs, on average, 20 people die every day while waiting to get a transplant. The transplant list does not choose favorites and treats small children the same as adults, everyone waits in line.
The process being explored would introduce adult human stem cells into developing sheep embryos. The mesh of chromosomes would then be placed back into the sheep to develop for another three weeks.
With the current procedure, one in every 10,000 cells is human. The lead team member of the University of California, Pablo Ross, believes that one in every hundred cells need to be human in order for the approach to work.
A successful procedure could result in a new fully functioning human organ harvested from a neutral source. The new organs could even be used to fight preexisting conditions in patients.
Type I diabetes is a disease which hinders the abilities of the afflicted to produce insulin. Unable to regulate the level of sugar in the blood, people suffering from diabetes may be able to find a cure with a new pancreas.
Insulin, secreted by pancreatic islet cells, helps to regulate the levels of blood sugar in the body. People suffering from diabetes are usually treated with injections of insulin to maintain homeostasis.
An experimental treatment has begun which involves the transfer of the islet cells from a healthy pancreas onto a diabetic patient. The procedure has seen limited success post-trials.
With personalized organs being grown for the patient, such procedures would see a huge increase in viability. Using the patients’ own cells to grow the new organ, the transplant would not be rejected by the patient’s immune system.
Part of the research conducted involved growing the pancreas of a mouse inside a rat. The team was able to transplant the chimera pancreas into a diabetic mouse.
The Stanford team successfully cured the mouse. Without suppressing the immune system of the mouse, the researchers were able to remove one of the riskiest portions of the transplant operation.
The scientists are scaling the study to involve human organs grown in a sheep host. Trying to conduct the same study with larger subjects, the team is trying to grow a human pancreas in sheep.
Opponents of the approach claim that the blood vessels in the human pancreas will still be sheep-like in nature. Head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute in Central London, Robin Lovell-Badge predicts an immediate rejection by the human immune system.
Hiro Nakauchi, leading the Stanford team, suggested that current regulations might be hindering success.
Only able to develop the embryos for four weeks at a time, Nakauchi believes that with 70 days of development with the human stem cells, the pancreas will be convincingly more human.
Nakauchi remains confident that his strategy will be producing positive results in the next five to 10 years.
President Trump and his administration have shown overwhelming support for scientific and medical research. In December, the National Institute of Health lifted a four-year ban on Gain of Function research which provides insight into deadly viruses.
Unafraid to exploit risk in order to win the reward, the president is making America one of the most scientifically advanced nations in the world once again. With the greatest medical practitioners, America will continue to dominate the medicinal field for years to come.