Scientists announce that they have created the first successful human-animal hybrids

This is nothing short of a red letter day for science.Scientists have announced that they have created the first successful human-animal hybrids. The international team of researchers led by the Salk Institute were able to produce successful human-big hybrids in a lab. The news will be somewhat controversial for anti-cloning activists and religious fundamentalists but opens new avenues for human body transplant.

Also, what is remarkable is that the project proves that human cells can be introduced into a non-human organism, survive, and even grow inside a host animal, in this case, pigs. The human organ transplantation has stuck to transplanting kidneys and hearts due to this specific problem.Now with the successful human-animal hybrids, scientists can now address the issue of critical shortage of donor organs.

To put things in perspective, every day around 22 people can be saved with organ transplants. With the number of donors decreasing every given day, organ transplant tech has received a new lease of life with this feat because now doctors and scientists can use animal organs instead of human ones.

The research team led by the Salk Institute have published their findings in the journal Cell. The team created what’s known scientifically as a chimera: an organism that contains cells from two different species. There are two ways to make a chimera. The first is to introduce the organs of one animal into another—a risky proposition, because the host’s immune system may cause the organ to be rejected.

The other method is to begin at the embryonic level, introducing one animal’s cells into the embryo of another and letting them grow together into a hybrid. The international research team used the second method. When scientists discovered stem cells, the master cells that can produce any kind of body tissue, they seemed to contain infinite scientific promise. But convincing those cells to grow into the right kinds of tissues and organs is difficult.

Cells must survive in Petri dishes. Scientists have to use scaffolds to make sure the organs grow into the right shapes. And often, patients must undergo painful and invasive procedures to harvest the tissues needed to kick off the process.

 Lead study author Jun Wu of the Salk Institute, says, “In ancient civilizations, chimeras were associated with God and our ancestors thought “the chimeric form can guard humans.” In a sense, that’s what the team hopes human-animal hybrids will one day do.
The research, however, puts science at odds with religious groups and those who oppose human cloning and transplantation.