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A hybrid of man and pig obtained for the first time

Эмбрионы-«химеры» станут донорами органов для трансплантации

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What happened?

Japanese University Kindai an international team of researchers (biologists from Japan, Spain and USA) for the first time in history created an embryo, which is a hybrid of man and pig, reports the Washington Post. The description of this experience published the scientific journal Cell.
In the article scientists call a hybrid “Chimera” in mythology it is the name is the creature with the snake tail, the body of a goat and a lion head. The Washington Post called the most successful experiment of the hybridization of man and animal, as well as a major step to obtaining the embryo of the animal functioning of human organs.

How does it work?

Scientists have introduced human stem cells into the embryos of pigs, in the early stages of development. Four weeks later two thousand hybrids 186 of the embryos developed to chimeras – organisms composed of genetically distinct cells. In these embryos human stem cells turned into cells that precede the formation of different types of tissue, including heart, liver and nerve cells.

Although human cells in the Chimera was extremely small, approximately one in 10 thousand, these cells normally worked in “foreign” body. Embryos-hybrids given the opportunity to develop within 28 days (that’s how long the first trimester of pregnancy in pigs), after which for ethical reasons they were destroyed.

According to lead author of the experiment, Professor Juan-Carlos Belmonte Izpisua, work experience took 4 years.

“We clearly underestimated how much effort will be needed. This is the first important step toward growing human organs in a pig’s body. Now we need to figure out how to make human cells turn into the right bodies to implement our main task is to learn how to grow transplanted organs”

quotes the words of Juan Belmonte RIA Novosti.

About 15 years ago, experts began to discuss the feasibility of transplanting animal organs into the human body. To do this, make the immune system not reject the foreign organ. The solution was not found yet, but scientists are developing special methods by which it will be possible to make the immune system “ignore” the foreign body.

Belmonte and the team came to the goal on the other hand – by growing human organs for transplant inside the body of the animal by means of the “genome editor” CRISPR/Cas9. This technology is used as a “killer” of some cells of the embryo at the time of the formation of any organ. Then the scientists administered on an empty seat stem cells of another organism, after which these cells begin to develop in the body, the site of which was cleared.


The main goal of research is growing in the body of the animal organs suitable for transplant to sick people. The body thus grown is more likely to take root in the human body, as initially it has a very close DNA. In addition, the results of the study can be used when testing new drugs.

What is the reaction of the public?

The fact of the creation of chimeras is causing a public outcry and heated debate. For ethical reasons the national institutes of health (NIH) stopped funding such experiments in 2015, and since then experiments are conducted on private money. In August, 2016 NIH promised to lift the moratorium, but still did not.

According to Belmonte, the fear of the Chimera is more concerned with mythology than with the real danger of a strictly controlled scientific experiments. In addition, as mentioned above, a team of researchers gave a new creature – embryo development was interrupted after 4 weeks.

“This is a sufficient period of time to understand how mixed cells of pigs and humans, but not to initiate ethical debate about adults animal chimeras”

said Juan Belmonte.

What other crossing were implemented in science?

These experiments started about 10 years ago, scientists carried out a crossbreeding mice and rats.

25 January 2016 in the journal Nature published an article describing how the body of the rat was raised by the rat pancreas, which is then transplanted mouse.

However, until now, could not cross a man with a larger animal (e.g., pig or monkey). In particular, this prevents different in the long process of embryo development: a pig’s pregnancy lasts about 4 months, while people – 9.

So it’s safe to say that the team Belmonte made a really significant step of learning how to “settle” the human cells into fetal pigs and mice.

It is noteworthy that the University Kindai in which an experiment was conducted, until being renamed in 2014 was called kinki, in the English language is associated with the meaning “crazy”, “overrun”. Here is crazy!


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What else to read?

Article of Vesti.RU about the benefits and risks of the controversial methods

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