Scientists Created The First Successful Human-Animal Hybrids
TRUTH IS OUT
Researchers have achieved a new kind of chimeric first, producing sheep-human hybrid embryos that could one day represent the future of organ donation – by using body parts grown inside unnatural, engineered animals. Scientists have created the first interspecies sheep-human chimera, introducing human stem cells into sheep embryos, resulting in a hybrid creature that's more than 99 percent sheep – but also a tiny, little bit like you and me.
Admittedly, the human portion of the embryos created in the experiment – before they were destroyed after 28 days – is exceedingly small, but the fact it exists at all is what generates considerable controversy in this field of research.
“The contribution of human cells so far is very small. It's nothing like a pig with a human face or human brain,” stem cell biologist Hiro Nakauchi from Stanford University told media at a presentation of the research this week in Austin, Texas, explaining that, by cell count, only about one in 10,000 cells (or less) in the sheep embryos are human.
The research builds on previous experiments by some of the same team that saw scientists successfully grow human cells inside early-stage pig embryos in the lab, creating pig-human hybrids that the researchers described as interspecies chimeras.
While the 'mad scientist' stereotype is fully present and accounted for in this kind of research, these divisive experiments could one day provide a unique solution for the thousands of people on donation waiting lists for live-saving organs – most of whom die before compatible body parts can be sourced for them, the researchers explain.
“Even today the best matched organs, except if they come from identical twins, don't last very long because with time the immune system continuously is attacking them,” says one of the team, reproductive biologist Pablo Ross from the University of California, Davis