Chinese scientists are growing kidneys containing human cells in pig embryos. This is a first instance that could help address organ donation shortages.
However, this development raises ethical issues – especially since some human cells were also found in the pigs’ brains, experts said.
Researchers from the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health focused on kidneys because they are one of the first organs to develop, and the most commonly transplanted in human medicine.
For example, rat organs have been produced in mice, and mouse organs have been produced in rats, but previous attempts to grow human organs in pigs have not succeeded, an expert claimed.
This new approach improves the integration of human cells into recipient tissues and allows scientists to grow human organs in pigs.
However, this is a different approach to the recent high-profile breakthroughs in the United States, where genetically modified pig kidneys and even a heart have been placed inside humans, the report said.