Human-animal hybrids could be used to develop life-saving organs and replacement limbs – but some fear it could be scientists “playing God”.
History was made when David Bennett, 57, from Maryland, USA, had a genetically modified pig heart implanted in his chest.
Bennett has a terminal heart condition, and underwent an odd-sounding procedure as a last hope – and he is now well 3 days after the operation.
And in the past, scientists have used the technique of grafting human and monkey embryos together, transplanting fetal organs into mice, and even growing human ears in mice.
The idea behind the bizarre experiments is to have pre-existing human organs grown in mutant animals under laboratory conditions – helping to fill the transplant gap left by organ shortages.
So-called “chimera” embryos and the use of animal parts, known as xenotransplants, have caused a lot of controversy – some say scientists have crossed the line.
Medical Daily was asked in 2016 whether the study was “Medical Miracle or God of Play?”.
And in some countries, the research is illegal, with human experiments only allowed in the US in 2016.
Some accuse the scientists of conducting “Frankenstein” experiments and that the tests did not go well with many religious groups.
For decades, scientists have studied how to perform these activities safely and save lives.
One of the most famous cases before Bennett was that of Stephanie Fae Beauclair, better known as Baby Fae.
Doctors implanted a baboon with a heart – becoming the first newborn to receive a “xenotransplant”.
The baby, suffering from a rare heart condition, died 21 days later because doctors deemed his blood type unsuitable for a baboon.
Bennett’s pig heart transplant, performed by a team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is the latest step in a journey that began more than a century ago.
Back in 1905, a French surgeon named Princeteau transplanted slices of rabbit kidney into a child with kidney failure.
As reported by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, “The immediate results were excellent. Urine output increased; vomiting stopped.”
I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice
However, he added, the tragedy was that “the child died of a pulmonary embolism” 16 days later.
The following year, also in France, another surgeon named Jaboulay twice failed to transplant pig and goat kidneys for two different patients.
The year 1923 saw something groundbreaking, even if it happened by accident.
When it was not possible to obtain a human kidney for a patient in need of an organ, Neuhof transplanted an organ from a lamb.
Although the patient died nine days later, Neuhof insisted that the surgery “wasn’t necessarily the dangerous one it was supposed to be”, and called for a follow-up examination.
In the 1960s, doctors at Tulane University in Louisiana attempted to use chimpanzee kidneys on people with terminal illnesses.
One of the primate kidney recipients lived for another nine months, returned to their job as a teacher, and when they died, the transplanted organ showed no sign of host rejection.
Back in 1997, Dr Jay Vacanti planted human ears on the backs of mice using cartilage cells, sparking anger among pro-life and animal rights groups.
Five years later, he suggested it was possible to “grow” a human liver.
In April last year, “chimera” monkey embryos containing human cells were grown in a laboratory by a US-China collaboration.
And in 2015, scientists caused controversy after they transplanted human fetal kidneys into mice.
Lead scientist, Professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute, who helped create a similar human-pig hybrid in 2017, said the work could pave the way to solving a severe shortage. transplantable organs, as well as helping us understand more about early human development, progressive disease, and aging.
And he insists the study, published in the journal Cell, meets current legal and ethical guidelines.
But not all scientists are convinced, with Dr Anna Smajdor of the University of East Anglia explaining: “Whether these embryos are human remains in question.”
While Professor Julian Savulescu from the University of Oxford warned the study “opens Pandora’s box to non-human chimeras”.
Last September, the first genetically modified pig kidney donation to a brain-dead person was performed, with some degree of success.
This has led us to today, and a groundbreaking pig heart transplant.
Immediately after performing the surgery, Dr Bartley Griffith said: “This is a groundbreaking operation and brings us one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.
“There are simply not enough donor hearts to satisfy the long list of potential recipients.”
The day before receiving the experimental surgery, David said in a statement released by the university: “It either died or performed this transplant.
“I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”
In 2019, it was reported that family planning clinics in the US offered researchers Body parts of aborted fetuses fused with mice in drug testing experiments.
Speaking at the time, Phelim McAleer, who produced the Gosnell film about a rogue abortionist, told Fox News: “The ruined infant’s body is a very valuable commodity in America today. .
“Research institutions, elite universities, medical centers pay a lot of money for baby parts.”
But Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero denied they profited from the sale of organs and said women could allow donation of their fetuses.
“At some of our medical centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this like any quality healthcare provider,” he said. other high.
https://www.thesun.ie/news/8189618/human-animal-hybrids-mutant-embryos/ Inside the world of lab-grown animal-human hybrids for transplant using mutant embryos amid fears of scientists ‘playing God’