Professor Esmail Zanjani from the University of Nevada unveiled a genetically engineered sheep- well, technically a sheep, we think -that has 15 percent human cells and 85 percent sheep cells this past week. Zanjani injects adult human cells into sheep fetuses to create these chimeras with the eventual goal of “growing” human organs inside the sheep for transplant into humans.
In an example given by Zanjani, he hopes one day to take bone marrow cells from a sick patient, implant the cells into a sheep fetus and literally grow bone marrow for the patient inside the animal. Just one sample of cells from the patient “would provide enough stem cells to do about ten fetuses. So you don’t just have one organ for transplant purposes, you have many available in case the first one fails,” says Zanjani.
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