Scientists have now created a hybrid called a human-animal chimera, which is a mouse embryo that is 4% human. The human-animal chimera is one organism that is consists of two sets of cells, which are the human cells and the mouse cells.
Out of all the animal experiments, the human-mouse chimera is the one that has the highest recorded number of human cells, as stated by the researchers of the study. The experiments of the human-mouse chimera show that there are human cells that can successfully generate in mouse cells.
According to scientists, the human-mouse chimera has a massive potential to treat human diseases, including COVID-19. Researchers from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the State University of New York at Buffalo published their findings of the research in the journal Science Advances.
Potential to treat diseases
Jian Feng, one of the authors of the study and a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University at Buffalo said that the findings are important because it shows that it is possible to develop different types of human cells in mouse embryos.
This research can be used to make cells, organs, or tissues to treat diseases. The team of researchers who did the study injected up to 12 human stem cells to create the mouse embryos. In just 17 days, the stem cells became millions of mature cells, and eye cells and human red blood cells were also detected.
The observations show that the mechanism that identifies the development time can be altered. In past experiments, scientists only detected 0.1% of human cells in mouse embryos. This is the first time that they were able to exhibit 4% of humans cells in mouse embryos.
The scientists were able to reach the number by converting human pluripotent stem cells into an earlier state. By converting the cells, it made the human pluripotent stem cells compatible with the inner group of cells inside a mouse embryo that is still in its early stage.
When the earlier stage human pluripotent stem cells were injected into mouse embryos, they immediately develop into much better embryos.
Is this the key to organ development?
There are ethical debates about human-animal chimeras. Even though they could be used to grow human organs for transplants, there are still some serious risks involved, according to some scientists. Feng stated that their research is still in its early stages and there are more studies that need to be conducted.
However, he added that the technology of making human stem cells compatible with mouse embryos has a lot of applications. It can generate a better mouse model that scientists can use to study human diseases, including COVID-19.
The mouse model can also be used in future studies to explore whether the human-animal chimeras can be used to larger animals, such as pig, in order to generate organs for transplants. Even though it may seem like it will take a long time before it can happen, it is still possible.
Feng said that all potential applications of experiments can happen if the society approves it and if there is no debate on whether an experiment is ethical or not. A society that can move forward is one that sees the world for what it is, and not what it should be.