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GreekReporter.comScienceScientists Successfully Cultivate Human Kidneys Within Pig Embryos

Scientists Successfully Cultivate Human Kidneys Within Pig Embryos

Growing Human Kidneys in Pigs
Scientists are now taking pioneering steps for growing human kidneys in pigs. Credit: Carolina Biological Supply Company / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A new research described in a recent study published in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell represents a significant advancement in the field of organ transplanting. Scientists have successfully cultivated kidneys primarily composed of human cells within pig embryos.

This achievement marks a crucial milestone towards the possibility of growing human organs, not limited to kidneys, for transplantation into individuals in need.

The process involved in this study includes modifying the genetic makeup of pig embryos and subsequently introducing human cells. These human cells then develop into a fully formed kidney within the pig host.

Moreover, this study signifies the first instance in which researchers have successfully grown a complete humanized organ within another species, reported CNN.

When these modified embryos were implanted into surrogate pig mothers, they started developing kidneys comprised predominantly of human cells. These developing kidneys exhibited a normal structure after twenty-eight days of growth and development, according to the study.

Five years to complete research successfully

Miguel Esteban, the senior study author and principal investigator at the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, shared that the research effort spanned a five-year period.

He explained that the process involved two critical modifications. First of all, the pigs needed to be genetically altered to create a conducive environment for human cells to grow with reduced competition from pig cells.

Secondly, they modified the human cells themselves to enable their survival in an environment that was not their natural habitat.

Kidneys are the organs most frequently transplanted in humans. Based on the data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there are over 88,500 people in the United States currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Ethical considerations surrounding the research

Ethical concerns are indeed a crucial aspect of research of this nature. These concerns encompass issues related to animal welfare, as well as the potential consequences of introducing human cells into the pig host.

One significant ethical consideration is the possibility that these human cells might not only contribute to kidney formation but also become involved in the development of other pig tissues, including the brain, as reported by CNN.

Miguel Esteban addressed one of the main concerns surrounding the research, emphasizing that they were cautious about the contribution of human cells to unintended tissue types. He clarified that they did not allow the pigs to reach full term during their experiments.

Moreover, Esteban noted there was minimal involvement of human cells in other types of tissue apart from the kidney. They observed only a small number of human cells in the central nervous system and none in the pig’s reproductive cells (germline).

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