Japanese scientist Hiromitsu Nakauchi has reached an important goal in his work with human-animal embryos. In a unique move, Japan has given permission for these experiments, unlike other countries that limit such research.
Nakauchi, who works at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University, wants to grow human organs in animals like pigs or sheep. This could be helpful for people who need organ transplants. While this goal is still far away, getting approval for his research is a big step forward.
The approved experiments will begin by putting human stem cells into specially changed rat and mice embryos. These embryos can’t grow pancreases on their own, so the human cells might help create working pancreases.
Scientists will watch the animals for about two years to see how they grow, how their organs develop, and how their brains work. Later, they will ask for permission to do similar experiments with pigs.
This research is different because it lets the embryos become animals. One worry is what kind of cells the human stem cells will turn into inside the animals. Nakauchi will be very careful as he moves forward, making sure people understand and trust his work.