There’s potentially good news for people suffering from type 1 diabetes as scientists have created the first-ever human-sheep hybrids which will make it possible for organs to be grown in animals which can be transplanted into humans.
The successful project from Stanford University is also being seen as a possible cure for type 1 diabetes by creating healthy pancreas to regulate blood sugar.
Scientists have previously developed human-pig hybrids seemingly opening the door that they can use them to grow human organs, however, no team has taken it to the next level.
Stanford’s team stands a better chance now since they have also successfully transplanted pancreas into mice, and now that they have produced a human-model sheep to use.
Project lead Dr. Hiro Nakuachi, a professor of genetics at Standford, is optimistic that the human-sheep hybrids would indeed be able to grow human organs in a matter of time. He said: “It could take five years or it could take 10 years but I think eventually we will be able to do this.”
The breakthrough could also be tapped to assist in alleviating the shortage of human organs being experienced globally.
Just in the U.S., there are around 76,000 people on an organ transplant list, while U.K. has 6, 500 waiting. The estimate is that it can take up to five years to reach the top.
Thirty-two people die a day waiting for a life-saving organ.
There have been ethical questions about the process and animal rights groups have always protested against such experiments on animals. Some defend, however, that it depends on how far the human cells roam in the animal. Spreading further than intended can give rise to contentions based on ethical considerations.
Associate Professor of animal science at the University of California Pablo Ross said that it growing human organs in sheep remains one of the most promising explorations in medicine at present. He added: “Imagine you could grow organs in nine months to an adult size.”
It would mark the first time should a human organ be finally grown inside a sheep.