Pig Pancreas Research May Aid Diabetics

JAPAN - A Japanese team has announced success in growing pancreases in pigs genetically modified to be unable to grow their own.
calendar icon 20 February 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

The achievement marks progress toward the team's goal of growing human pancreases in pigs for transplant into diabetics, said a statement by the team, led by Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi, of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Medical Science.

According to an article released online by the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used male white pig embryos that had been genetically altered to lack pancreases.

According to Daily Yomiuri Online, the team, also including Professor Hiroshi Nagashima, of Meiji University, injected cells of normal female black pig embryos into the white pig embryos and created chimera blastocysts.

The blastocysts were then put into the wombs of other pigs, which gave birth to male white pigs with black pig pancreases, the article said.

In 2010, Professor Nakauchi and his colleagues created rat pancreases inside the bodies of mice.

But it is thought to be technologically difficult to create human pancreases in pigs by injecting human induced plurioptent stem cells into pancreas-deficient pig embryos.

In addition, it would be ethically problematic if pigs give birth to babies that have grown from embryos into which human iPS cells were injected.

This is because the chimera created would be made up of both human and pig cells.

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