“Embryonic” chimeras may solve critical organ shortage

| | July 8, 2016
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The idea of a chimera is thought to date back to ancient Greek mythology. Now, scientists are hoping that “embryonic” chimeras may be the solution to the critical shortage of organs for transplant.

In June 2016, it was widely reported that a team from the University of California, Davis was creating embryonic chimeras by injecting human stem cells into pig embryos. This process involved the much talked about CRISPR gene editing technique to remove the DNA that would code for the growing of a pancreas from a fertilized pig embryo.

However, there are ethical concerns the practice would face. These include the risk of consciousness resulting from too high a contribution of human cells in the animal’s brain, chimeras physically developing human features and chimeras producing human gametes. These might sound like nightmarish, dystopian possibilities, but they are intended to be the absolute worst case scenarios.

Indeed, public perception is a significant barrier to overcome. However, if public understanding and ethical concerns are met, we’ll have an answer to our chronic organ shortage.

Read full, original post: Chimeras: from Greek myth to scientific reality?

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