Organ transplantation is the only hope that many patients have who are suffering from end-stage failure, but the process is not consistent nor reliable because the success of this process depends upon the availability of donor organs. However, stem cell research is showing a lot of progress and organ regeneration by making use of stem-cell research, and animal embryos might prove to be a way of tackling the donor shortage in the world of medicine. Hiromitsu Nakauchi might be able to prove the potential behind this technique!
The pursuit, however, can pose a lot of ethical questions. Japanese Stem Cell researcher Hiromitsu Nakauchi is the team leader at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University in California and the first scientist to have received government support for the creation of animal embryos that possess human cells. These cells would then be transplanted into surrogate animals. Although this might sound like a process coming out from science fiction film; there is actually some methodical sense in this process.
As mentioned above, researchers are trying to create animals with organs that have been created from human cells and eventually making use of these organs in transplantation medicine. Before Hiromitsu Nakauchi was given this opportunity by Japan’s science ministry, such procedures were banned because of technical and ethical reasons. A community comprised of bioethicists is highly concerned that the human cells might move beyond the targeted organ’s development and make their way into the brain of the animal and affect its cognition.
Hiromitsu Nakauchi, along with his team members, is planning to take preventive measures for avoiding any such complications from arising. The team will be taking things slowly during the experiment’s initial stages. The team has plans of growing the hybrid 14.5 days when the animal’s organ are mostly formed ‘and almost to the term’.
As per Hiromitsu Nakauchi, ‘We are trying to do targeted organ generation, so the cells go only to the pancreas’. The team will then move onto testing the procedure with rats and then will eventually move on to pigs after seeking government approval.