Researchers with Stanford University and the University of Tokyo have announced a new breakthrough treatment that successfully cured mice of diabetes using a rat-grown mouse pancreas. The achievement could help lead to future treatments — or possibly even a cure — for diabetes in humans. Even better, these lab grown organs are genetically matched to the recipient, meaning anti-rejection drugs only need to be taken for a few days rather than one’s entire life.
The work is an exciting development not just for diabetes treatments, but also inter-species organ donations. Researchers have long envisioned a future in which human organs could be grown in sheep or pigs and then, once fully formed, transplanted into a human. That’s just what happened here, only it involved growing a mouse pancreas in a lab rat.
The way about which the researchers went ahead with this experiment was a bit macabre on the surface, though. The rats were genetically engineered so that they wouldn’t form their own pancreas. Instead, mouse pluripotent stem cells were implanted into the rat embryos, which then grew a pancreas using that material instead of its own. Continue reading