Some alarming news from the world of biomedical research: growing a human organ inside pigs
The experiments are so sensitive that the National Institutes of Health has imposed a moratorium on funding them while officials explore the ethical issues they raise.
Nevertheless, a small number of researchers are pursuing the work with private funding. They hope the results will convince the NIH to lift the moratorium.
The first step involves using new gene-editing techniques to remove the gene pig embryos need to make a pancreas.
After the embryos have had their DNA edited this way, Ross creates another hole in the membrane so he can inject human induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS for short, into the pig embryos.
Like human embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can turn into any kind of cell or tissue in the body. The researchers’ hope is that the human stem cells will take advantage of the void in the embryo to start forming a human pancreas.
The human-pig hybrid embryo would then be implanted inside a pregnant sow so it could develop into a fetus. At this point in the research, the creature is harvested after 28 days to see if it is developing as hoped.