Japan is taking great strides in science and in the inevitable walk towards doom by introducing a new animal-human hybrid into the evolutionary mix. It’s not as horrific as what you probably instantly imagined, but still unsettling. Stem cell scientist Hiromitsu Nakauchi is planning a way to develop new human organs in the bodies of animals which would then be harvested to perform transplants.
How will he do this? Nature reports he’ll be growing “human cells in mouse and rat embryos and then transplant those embryos into surrogate animals.”
So, it’s kind of like a three-animal mix, with humans being only one.
This sort of thing was banned in Japan until March of this year, but new guidelines have opened things up for experimentation. If things go well, it could potentially mean unlimited organs available for transplants, which would obviously be a huge deal. Probably not something many people have the health insurance to cover, but still pretty cool.
But he is taking things slowly:
Initially, he plans to grow hybrid mouse embryos until 14.5 days, when the animal’s organs are mostly formed and it is almost to term. He will do the same experiments in rats, growing the hybrids to near term, about 15.5 days. Later, Nakauchi plans to apply for government approval to grow hybrid embryos in pigs for up to 70 days.
And he’s been working up to all of that for about ten years.
While this could potentially lead to a lot of good, there is an “ethical concern” that human cells might not stay where they’re put, and could “travel to the developing animal’s brain and potentially affect its cognition.”
Yup, SciFi fantasies about self-aware pigs with bonus organs are about to come to life. Definitely feels right for 2021.