Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Use CRISPR to Grow Human Pancreas in Pigs

June 15, 2016

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, are using CRISPR gene editing and induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells to create a hybrid pig-human embryo to grow human organs.

The hybrid embryo is known as a chimera, and would act and look like a normal pig, but will have a pancreas made of human cells. One day the process could grow life-saving organs for humans. Scientists did it by deleting parts of the fertilized pig DNA using CRISPR, and then filling this hole by injecting human iPS cells so that a human pancreas can grow.

There has been concern that animal viruses could be transferred to humans through transplantation. However, Harvard Medical School scientists showed it was possible to inactivate more than 60 retrovirus genes in pigs using gene-editing technology.

One possibility is if a patient's IPS cells were donated and combined with the pig embryo, creating a copy of the person's own organ that would lead to a more successful transplant.

For more on this topic, read the article on Bioscience Technology.