Worldwide donor organ shortage prompts scientists to use animals to grow organs

In response to the international shortage of donor organs, researchers have begun exploring how adult stem cells can be used to grow human organs inside the uterus of a pig, CNN reports.

Scientists at the University of California, Davis start by taking human stem cells from an adult's skin or hair, and then they use a pig embryo to help the organ grow inside the pig uterus. Several weeks after the embryo has matured in the uterus, the scientists can determine whether the procedure worked, terminate the pregnancy and analyze the cell remnants, according to the report.

Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, PhD, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., told CNN this process may not only help grow organs for transplant patients, it could help treat patients with diseases such as diabetes.

"With the compatibility of [human and pig] cells, this will open the door for personalizing medicine," Dr. Belmonte told CNN. "If this works, it may change the practice of medicine."



More articles on organ transplantation:
University Hospitals' organ transplant program put on probation
Sepsis mortality in solid organ transplant patients is lower than previously thought
Liver donors experience adverse physical, financial outcomes after donation

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