With the help of stem cells, researchers produced the first ever sheep embryos with human genes.
Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Texas have become the first team to successfully produce a sheep embryos that contains a small, yet substantial, amount of the human genetic code.
The scientific breakthrough could lead to one day help humans grow body parts and organs through genetically engineered animals.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) February 17, 2018
Reading this, one might believe that the embryos would develop into half human/half sheep offsprings, but that couldn’t be further from the situation. (Also, all the embryos were destroyed within four weeks of creation.)
Adult human stem cells were introduced to an early-stage sheep embryo, which the scientists monitored for 28 days. The results were that one in every 10,000 cells in the embryos being human cells.
This means that the human cell ratio was just 0.01 percent, not enough to qualify them as even partially human. However, the ratio is much more than scientists had previously achieved, when they were attempting similar experiments with pig embryos.
— The Life Pile (@thelifepile) February 15, 2018
Also, to create an organ that would be compatible with a human body, the embryos would have be at least 1% human.
These latest tests have debunked the ethical concern theories which feared that such genetic manipulation would result in animals with human features or consciousness. They show that human stem cells could be used to develop specific organs, rather than human/animal hybrids.
In the US alone, more than 117,000 people are currently waiting for donor organs, 22 of which die waiting each day.