The group of Japanese researchers was approved by a Japanese government committee on the 4th of July to proceed with an experimental process in which they are going to transplant human stem cells (which can mature into almost any type of cell) into the embryos of animals.
When the stem cells have been transplanted into the embryos, human cells, known as “IPS” cells (which stands for induced pluripotent stem cells), can grow into human organs. If everything goes according to plan, the experiment could be upscaled to pigs and other larger animals, in which full-size human organs could be grown. The scientists hope that one day, organs for use in transplants can be grown in this way.
“[In regards to the government approving the experiment,] I personally thought it was very exciting” Ronald Parchem explained. He is as assistant professor (Baylor College of Medicine in Houston), in the department of neuroscience. He is not, however, involved with the project that has just been approved. “It has tremendous potential to help many people who are suffering from a broad variety of diseases or in need of different types of tissue or organ replacement.”
Of course, as the project continues, certain scientific and ethical problems may come up. As this field of research progresses, such bioethical problems will need to be discussed by researchers, scientists, the government, and the people.