Hybrid animals become reality us researchers have crossed pigs and humans
Hybrid animals are becoming a reality: US researchers have now succeeded in creating an embryo with human and animal DNA. In this way, replacement organs for humans should be able to be produced. Embryo mixtures of humans and cows and humans and rats have already been created artificially. Ethics warn of unforeseeable consequences.
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in growing embryos from pig and human cells (hybrid animals). In this way, the production of organs that can be transplanted into humans should succeed in the future in order to “address the worldwide shortage of donor organs", according to the scientists.
Researchers at the Salk Institute in California created the pig-human embryo, by doing they injected various human stem cells into a pig embryo. The embryo was then planted in a surrogate sow and observed.
Since genetic hybrids from human embryos are still banned in western countries and it is not known whether such a hybrid being would be viable at all, the embryos were only allowed to develop for four weeks and were then "killed". The result: The human cells survived during this period and formed mixed embryos, so-called chimeras. "This period is long enough for us. In this way, we can try to understand the interplay between human and pig cells without raising ethical questions about adult chimeras, ”says the US researchers.
Human chimeras are no longer uncommon
Human stem cells have long been implanted in the embryos of other animal species, such as cows, mice or rats. The stem cells should develop with the human genome in the animal organism to the desired organ, which can then be removed and transplanted. The California researchers even managed to create embryonic human hearts with astonishing completeness.
Will there soon be medical pig farms in which the animals are specifically bred and killed for organs? In any case, for a group of scientists worldwide, this is a realistic option.
Genetic research out of control
What the scientists seem to be concerned with according to the journal "Cell" is the question of what would happen if the human stem cells in pigs not only participated in the kidney or pancreas, but also in the structure of the brain? Could the hybrid animals become too human? In any case, that cannot be ruled out.
The extensive study, involving forty pig farmers and 1500 pig embryos, lasted four years. "Our next challenge is to increase efficiency and to direct human cells so that they can be used to develop a specific organ in pigs", explains the scientist involved, Jun Wu.
But do we really want that? What is your opinion on hybrid animals?
About the picture: The Australian artist Patricia Piccinini is already busy since Years with the interaction of humans and technology and the fusion of natural and artificially created beings. These hybrid beings are an indication of what can happen if genetic engineering gets out of control. "The young family, 2002" is one of her most famous works. Continue reading…
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Sources: Pictures: The Young Family, 2002, Silicone, fiberglass, leather, human hair, plywood, 85cm high x 150cm long x 120cm wide approx., Photo: Graham Baring, Text: Meike Riebe
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