Scientists generate first human-animal embryos

Scientists have long been trying to grow human organs within animal bodies to create sufficient number of transplantable kidneys, hearts and other organs for patients in need. Pushing ahead with this goal in mind, a team of researchers successfully generated human cells and tissues in the embryos of pigs and cattle.

Led by Dr. Jun Wu of the gene expression lab at the Salk Institute, the researchers generated human cells and tissues in the embryos of animals using stem cell technologies.

However, the researchers admitted that in spite of the milestone, integrating human cells and animal species remains difficult, keeping the goal of developing human organs inside animals at a considerable distance.

Speaking on the topic, Wu said, “Species evolve independently, and many factors dictating the developmental programs might have diverged, which makes it difficult to blend cells from one species to a developing embryo from another.”

Wu added that the larger the evolutionary distance between humans and an animal species, the more difficult it would be for scientists to integrate human cells and animal species.

The promising research was detailed in the journal Cell, which publishes peer-reviewed articles and reports of unusual implication in any area of investigational biology.