The Japanese government is now supporting a plan to create “humanimals,” or to simply put, a human-animal chimera using animal embryos with human cells.
“Finally, we are in a position to start serious studies in this field after 10 years of preparation,” lead researcher Hiromitsu Nakauchi told Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper.
A government ban on such experiments has been lifted earlier this year, with a committee from the science ministry approving the request by scientists and researchers to grow human pancreases in rats or mice.
The experiment aims to bring chimera embryos to term, which could result to the birth of real humanimals. This is also done in the hopes of one day providing humans with a source of transplantable organs from animals, according to gizomodo.com.
Nakauchi’s team of researchers and scientists first engineer rodent embryos that failed to grow in their own bodies, then put the human stem cells into them with the goal of developing the embryos in pancreases. Those embryos will then be transplanted into adult rodents.
However, Nakauchi cautioned it will be a tedious job, as they will first grow them into near-term before pursuing a live birth in the future. If too many human cells get into the embryo’s brains, Asahi Shimbum reported that scientists will surely pause the experiment.
This plan also received major backlash from the community, with some of the biggest ethical questions thrown back to the authorities. There is a continuing debate whether it is right to harvest human organs from a pig.
Medical ethicists from The Hastings Center, Carolyn Neuhaus, even asked scientists to take a step back and discuss the ethics involved with the community in 2017.
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