An ongoing research study into the viability of growing human organs in animals for transplantation into humans has just made progress. Chinese scientists have successfully managed to create a monkey-pig hybrid. Though both the chimera pigs born in the experiment died within a week, they were found to have monkey DNA in their heart, liver, spleen, lung, and skin.
The two chimera pigs were born from 4,000 embryos that were implanted into a sow through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
A research team from State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing managed to create genetically modified monkey cells that would naturally produce a fluorescent protein so that researchers could track the monkey cells as well as any dependent cells.
These modified monkey cells were then injected into pig embryos. The experiment resulted in ten pigs being born of which two could be considered chimaeras.
Even though the pigs died within a few days, the scientists are going to keep trying to create healthy animals with a much higher concentration of monkey DNA. The experiment only had one monkey cell for every 1,000 cells.
The research was published in Protein and Cell and according to the paper, these results bring the team one step closer to producing tissue-specific functional cells.
Scientists have long tried to create such hybrids. In 2017, researchers in California tried to create human-pig chimeras with the ratio of one human cell for 100,000 pig cells. The embryos were unable to survive even a month.
The United Kingdom at the moment is considering a new law called the Max's Law which states that an adult will be considered an organ donor unless they have specifically registered and opted off the donation pool. The government believes it can save almost 700 lives in a year with this new initiative.