By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC
Again, we see the importance of animal research, with the potential that the organ shortage could be largely solved by growing patient DNA-identical human organs in pigs for transplant. From the Telegraph story:
Scientists have found they can create chimeric animals that have organs belonging to another species by injecting stem cells into the embryo of another species. The researchers injected stem cells from rats into the embryos of mice that had been genetically altered so they could not produce their own organs, creating mice that had rat organs. The researchers say the technique could allow pigs to grow human organs from patient’s stem cells for use as transplants. By using a patient’s own stem cells it could help to reduce the risk of the transplanted organ being rejected while also providing a plentiful supply of donor organs.
Technically, these aren’t adult stem cells, as the story suggests, but IPSCs. But that aside, if this works — still a big if — are the lives of pigs worth sacrificing to save the lives of people who need organs? You betcha (to quote a m uch reviled and beloved figure). If we can eat bacon, we can use pigs to grow organs for human use. Onward!
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