World first: Chinese scientists create pig stem cells

Jun 02, 2009

Scientists have managed to induce cells from pigs to transform into pluripotent stem cells - cells that, like embryonic stem cells, are capable of developing into any type of cell in the body. It is the first time in the world that this has been achieved using somatic cells (cells that are not sperm or egg cells) from any animal with hooves (known as ungulates).

The implications of this achievement are far-reaching; the research could open the way to creating models for human genetic diseases, genetically engineering animals for organ transplants for humans, and for developing pigs that are resistant to diseases such as swine flu.

The work is the first research paper to be published online today (Wednesday 3 June) in the newly launched Journal of Molecular Cell Biology.

Dr Lei Xiao, who led the research, said: "To date, many efforts have been made to establish ungulate pluripotent from early embryos without success. This is the first report in the world of the creation of domesticated ungulate . Therefore, it is entirely new, very important and has a number of applications for both human and animal health."

Dr Xiao, who heads the stem cell lab at the Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology (Shanghai, China), and colleagues succeeded in generating induced pluripotent stem cells by using transcription factors to reprogramme cells taken from a pig's ear and . After the cocktail of reprogramming factors had been introduced into the cells via a virus, the cells changed and developed in the laboratory into colonies of embryonic-like stem cells. Further tests confirmed that they were, in fact, stem cells capable of differentiating into the cell types that make up the three layers in an embryo - endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm - a quality that all embryonic stem cells have. The information gained from successfully inducing pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) means that it will be much easier for researchers to go on to develop embryonic stem cells (ES cells) that originate from pig or other ungulate embryos.

Dr Xiao said: "Pig pluripotent stem cells would be useful in a number of ways, such as precisely engineering transgenic animals for organ transplantation therapies. The pig species is significantly similar to humans in its form and function, and the organ dimensions are largely similar to human organs. We could use embryonic stem cells or induced stem cells to modify the immune-related genes in the pig to make the pig organ compatible to the human . Then we could use these pigs as organ donors to provide organs for patients that won't trigger an adverse reaction from the patient's own immune system.

"Pig pluripotent stem cell lines could also be used to create models for human genetic diseases. Many human diseases, such as diabetes, are caused by a disorder of gene expression. We could modify the pig gene in the stem cells and generate pigs carrying the same gene disorder so that they would have a similar syndrome to that seen in human patients. Then it would be possible to use the pig model to develop therapies to treat the disease.

"To combat swine flu, for instance, we could make a precise, gene-modified pig to improve the animal's resistance to the disease. We would do this by first, finding a gene that has anti-swine flu activity, or inhibits the proliferation of the swine flu virus; second, we can introduce this gene to the pig via pluripotent stem cells - a process known as gene 'knock-in'. Alternatively, because the swine flu virus needs to bind with a receptor on the cell membrane of the pig to enter the cells and proliferate, we could knock out this receptor in the pig via gene targeting in the pig induced pluripotent stem cell. If the receptor is missing, the virus will not infect the pig."

In addition to medical applications for pigs and humans, Dr Xiao said his discovery could be used to improve animal farming, not only by making the pigs healthier, but also by modifying the growth-related genes to change and improve the way the pigs grow.

However, Dr Xiao warned that it could take several years before some of the potential medical applications of his research could be used in the clinic.

The next stage of his research is to use the pig iPS cells to generate gene-modified pigs that could provide organs for patients, improve the pig species or be used for disease resistance. The modified animals would be either "knock in" pigs where the iPS or ES cells have been used to transfer an additional bit of genetic material (such as a piece of human DNA) into the pig's genome, or "knock out" where the technology is used to prevent a particular gene functioning.

Commenting on the study, the journal's editor-in-chief, Professor Dangsheng Li, said: "This research is very exciting because it represents the first rigorous demonstration of the establishment of pluripotent stem cell in ungulate species, which will open up interesting opportunities for creating precise, gene-modified animals for research, therapeutic and agricultural purposes."

More information: Generation of pig induced pluripotent with a drug-inducible system. Journal of Molecular Cell Biology. doi:10.1093/jmcb/jmp003

Source: Oxford University (news : web)

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Quantum_Conundrum
2 / 5 (4) Jun 02, 2009
"The modified animals would be either "knock in" pigs where the iPS or ES cells have been used to transfer an additional bit of genetic material (such as a piece of human DNA) into the pig's genome,"
===

This is not good. Not good at all.

This article started out making me thankful that it proves there is no need to kill babies to get stem cells. But then these lunatics want to start making a chimera out of humans and pigs dna.

We don't need this sort of un-natural science. If they want to use a pig model to learn how to clone human organs, fine. But using it like this to grow "human compatible" organs inside a pig is disgusting and un-natural.

This is just like the thing from japan where they spliced jellyfish dna into some primates, marmosets or some such thing I can't remember how to spell. It is un-natural and has far more potential negative side effects on the econsystem than any benefit imaginable.


Lastly, and most importantly, it violates God's natural order of things, that everything should reproduce after it's own kind.


If they want to study pig dna to make better pigs, fine do that.

If they want to study human dna to make better medical technologies and perhaps even certain types of gene therapies to fight disease, fine.

But crossing the genes of species which could not normally mate is completely un-natural and un-godly. It is like the forbidden fruit in the Garden, and there will be hell to pay...
nick7201969
not rated yet Jun 03, 2009
hmm.. This article made me hungry. I think I'll step out for some bacon and pig out.
Scire
1 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2009
This is very encouraging, being able to grow human organs for transplant inside pigs will save a lot of lives.
clearblue
not rated yet Jun 04, 2009
Will the followers of Islam welcome the transplants?
Hummmmmmm!

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