Transplant shortage? Don’t generate human organs in animals, use stem cell technology to develop organoids

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A spherical skin organoid showing the generation of multiple cell layers. Image: Jiyoon Lee/Karl Koehler

Xenotransplantation experiments, generating human organs in animals for transplantation, are being conducted in sheep, pigs, and, recently, in nonhuman primates. Last month, a group of scientists from Spain and the US began to examine the use of monkeys as animal hosts to produce human organs. 

There are many scientific and ethical issues emerging from xenotransplantation technologies. For example, will it be ethical to do the experiments necessary to ensure that human stem cells introduced into the animal embryo to form a kidney will not migrate to the animal’s brain to generate human-like behaviors in such animal chimeras?  

There is an alternative that we believe avoids several of these scientific and ethical concerns—the use of stem cell technology to develop human organoids. 

[There are] scientific groups that are using 3-D technologies to develop mini-organs such as liver, placenta, stomach, lymph nodes, and even brain

Without making a final ethical judgment on future research using human-animal chimeras as a source of human transplantable organs, we believe that developing human organoids might offer a faster and better scientific and ethical platform to address the crisis in organ transplantation.    

Read full, original post: Develop Organoids, Not Chimeras, for Transplantation

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