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Scientists will try to grow human pancreases inside rodents in the hope of one day transplanting them into people with illnesses such as type 1 diabetes.
Japanese researchers hope injecting human stem cells into embryos will encourage the development of a working pancreas.
Research - String - Cross-species - Attempts - Rats
The research is the latest in a string of cross-species transplant attempts, which have proven successful between rats and mice in the past.
If this bid is successful, the genetic engineering could one day be scaled up to grow people-sized organs in bigger animals like pigs.
Time - Patients - Researchers - Lives - People
Although admitting it would take a long time before this could help human patients, the researchers were optimistic it could 'save the lives of many people'.
But animal rights campaigners said the method sounded like a 'waste of lives, time and money' which was unlikely to succeed.
Experts - University - Tokyo - Permission - Funding
Experts at the University of Tokyo are applying for permission and funding to try the radical experiment, which would be the first of its kind in the country.
Professor Hiromitsu Nakauchi, who will lead the research, is developing on his past work which found rat-grown pancreases could cure type 1 diabetes in mice.
Advantage - Change - Law - March - Year
He is taking advantage of a change in Japanese law which, since March this year, now allows attempts to grow human organs in animals.
He told Asian news website The Asahi Shimbun: 'Human organs will not be created immediately.
Method - Lives - People - Study
'But if this method is realised, it will be able to save the lives of many people. We want to proceed cautiously with our study.'
Professor Nakauchi and his team plan to attempt the growth by genetically editing a fertilised rodent egg to stop it being able to form its own pancreas.
Stem - Cells - Embryo - Shimbun - Stem
They will then inject human stem cells into the embryo, the Shimbun reported – stem cells are essentially the building blocks of babies and have the...
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