Scientists have produced a new kind of chimera: a human-sheep hybrid. This kind of research can become organ donation’s future. This inter-species chimera was produced by introducing stem cells from humans into the embryos of sheep. The result was a newly formed species which is 99 percent a sheep and 1 percent a human. The human portion is very less in such kind of chimera, but the fact that human nature still exists in such a species has generated controversy in the field of research.
Hiro Nakauchi from Stanford University who is a stem cell biologist said it’s nothing like a pig with the face or brain of a human. He also explained that only one in 10,000 cells is human in the sheep embryo. Previously pig-human hybrids have been created. While this has been termed as a mad experiment, this research would one day help people who are desperate for organ transplantation. Most of the patients who undergo organ transplantation die because of the loss of organ compatibility.
Organs produced from inter species chimera need a long way to go before they can be used for organs transplantation in humans. 1 per cent of the embryo’s cell need to human for the transplant work to be successful. So the research now which is going on is in a very preliminary stage. Increasing the human ratio in the mix would invariably increase the ethical qualms for such a creature being created.
In the US every 10 minutes there is a transplant going on and there are no easy answers to ethical questions which are asked for such researches. Pablo Ross who is reproductive biologist at the University of California, Davis says that if the results show that all the human cells go to the brain of the chimera then the experiment should not be continued. She also said that all these approaches are controversial. Moreover, none of those approaches are perfect.
These findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas.