Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Pupil Contributions, Clifton College

Lauren O'Hagan: 21/02/17

Despite only being two months into 2017, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte and his colleagues at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, have managed to grow pig embryos from blastocysts- balls of cells, which have been injected with human stem cells.

How do they do it?

Human stem cells are pluripotent; they can develop into any kind of cell because they are unspecialised as most human cells are differentiated meaning that they are unable to do this. These stem cells are injected into blastocysts. Blastocysts are balls of cells formed before the formation of a mammalian embryo, in this instance, a pig. The most successful stem cells were stem cells at an intermediate stage of maturity which went on to develop into full embryos.

How does this benefit us though?

This research, may, with many years’ research, lead to human organ growth, potentially replacing organ transplants. Moreover, this could be massively beneficial to patients as if it can be grown using their own DNA, then patients wouldn’t suffer from organ rejection. This would save them the ordeal of having to take countless numbers of pills and other forms of medication, giving them a greater deal of life.