Scientists have combined the cells of a pig with the cells of a human, resulting in an embryo that has been implanted into a sow.
From Human-pig HYBRID? Scientists hoping to create part man, part pig organs | Science | News | Daily Express:
Scientists from the Salk Institute – a biological research organisation in California – have taken cells from pigs and people to create an embryo that was then inserted into a female pig.
As part of initial experiments, several different types of human cells were inserted into pig embryos in petri dishes to determine which cells were the best match for the pig embryo.
The human cells which worked best with the pigs’ were infant ones which have the potential to develop into all adult cell types – known as a pluripotent cell.
The cells that survived eventually formed a human/pig embryo, which were then injected into female pigs and allowed to develop for around a month.Lead author of the research, Izpisua Belmonte, told Futurism: “This is long enough for us to try to understand how the human and pig cells mix together early on without raising ethical concerns about mature chimeric animals.”
No ethical issues? They abort the embryo before it develops far enough to become a full-fledged “chimera.” Actually, right now the cells didn’t last long on their own. The pig cells need further modification before they can fully accept human DNA. But this is the direction genetic engineers are heading. The stated purpose is to grow human organs for transplant. But that end cannot possibly justify these means.
Illustration by Glen Edelson, 50s movie poster Mad Scientist style: Jason Von Stein, Creative Commons License