A Japanese researcher has been authorized by his government to research chimeras, these hybrid human-animal embryos. In particular, it is planned to transplant these embryos into a replacement uterus. What is the purpose of this research?
Human-animal hybrid embryos
According to an article published in the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun on July 25, 2019, researcher HiromitsuNakauchi has been endorsed by the Japanese Ministry of Science and Education. The research project of this scientist leading several teams in the universities of Tokyo (Japan) and Stanford (United States) has been validated.
In a publication in the journal Nature, the researcher states that he wants to cultivate human cells in mouse and rat embryos. It is then to live more than 14 days, but also to transplant into uteri substitution. On the other hand, HiromitsuNakauchi said he wanted to progress with caution so that the first experiments will involve hybrid mouse embryos not completed.
“We do not plan to create human organs immediately, but it allows us to advance our research based on the know-how we have acquired so far,” said the Japanese researcher.
What is the purpose of this research?
HiromitsuNakauchi wants to work on mice and rats in order to understand if it is possible to obtain animals carrying organs. If successful, the technique could be applied to larger animals such as pigs and sheep. The goal of this research is to find a way to solve the problem of chronic organ donor deficiencies around the world. In the United States alone, there is a waiting list of more than 115,000 patients.
Many scientists think – beyond obvious ethical issues – that many problems can emerge. In particular, there is a concern that cells implanted in an animal embryo will damage the brain instead of staying within the organ that one wishes to develop through it. HiromitsuNakauchi admitted that this issue will be central to this research.
Since 2017, we have been talking about research in China with the same purpose. A few years ago, this country became No. 1 in animal cloning, especially in the cloning of pigs. However, researchers have managed to use the organs of this animal in the context of transplants on monkeys. The goal? Clone pigs, recover the desired organs, and transplant them to humans.