BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A team of Japanese scientists made an interesting discovery that may impact even the world of human medicine. They succeeded in growing mouse pancreases in rats and then used them to cure the diabetes they had induced to the mice.
As mentioned before, the experiment is meant to help in the treatment of human diseases. The scientists hope that one day they will be able to grow human organs in other animals and use them to treat illnesses that are otherwise incurable.
Hiromitsu Nakauchi, the lead scientist of the study, made a few comments on the experiment. He said that the generated organs were in short supply and they were not genetically matched to the recipient. If they could use cells from the recipient to create the wanted transplant, this would be a revolutionary discovery. The receiver would not have to use drugs so that the new organ is matched to the new organism it is transplanted to.
They started the initiative back in 2010, when they tried to grow mouse pancreases in rats, but the organs were too small to work in rats. The present experiment does exactly the opposite. They injected mouse stem cells into rat embryos. These embryos grew into chimeras, which are some sort of hybrid. They are rats that contain both rat and mouse cells. The scientists suppressed the rat genes in the pancreas and this is why the chimeras developed mouse-only pancreases.
Then, the diabetically-induced mice received certain parts of the pancreas, namely the endocrine islets. These mice needed the aforementioned drugs only for five days, therefore their immune system was able to get rid of the rat cells mostly by itself. These transplants functioned for a year.
Therefore, the study shows that the rat-grown pancreas is not only functional, but it is also accepted by the immune system of the mice. This brings hope that, in the future, the same method could be used successfully in the transplant of human organs.
Of course, many difficulties await the researchers in the experiment applied to humans. For example, the human organs may be rejected by the host animals’ immune system. Even in the case of rats and mice, other organs are more complex and more difficult to grow. But the researchers are optimistic and think that the experiment with mouse pancreases grown inside rats is a great achievement for science and medicine.
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