Chinese scientists successfully mix human and pig genes to create a new laboratory-grown skin
Chinese scientists successfully mix human and pig genes to create a new laboratory-grown skin that could be used for transplants of burn victims
- A team from Nanchang University added human genes to a pig skin sample.
- They also removed 3 different pig genes from the sample to make it more viable.
- They discovered that the new skin survived healthy for 25 days in a macaque monkey
Scientists in China have used a new mixture of human and pig genes to create laboratory-grown skin samples that hope to treat burn victims and others who need skin grafts.
Lijin Zou led a team of the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, which tested the viability of its specialized samples in macaque monkeys.
According to Zou, the hybrid skin sample survived for 25 days in a macaque without the need for any additional treatment to suppress the host’s immune system and prevent it from attacking the sample.
Researchers at Nanchang University have mixed pig genes and human genes to create a new type of skin graft sample that they hope will be useful in the medical treatment of burn victims.
“So far, it is the best result, at least from English literature,” said Zou New scientist, saying he hopes the sample can last even longer in a human host, where the presence of human genes could help prevent an immune response.
To create the skin sample, the team added eight specific human genes to the pig genome and removed three pig genes that have been connected to immune response triggers.
The specific combination of human genes and pigs could help researchers overcome a fundamental challenge in the efforts of years to create organ transplants grown in the laboratory.
Pig samples are the easiest animal to extract, both in terms of broad applicability, but because pigs and humans are not phylogenetically close, the immune system of human hosts will often attack samples produced from DNA. of pork
By isolating and editing genes of both species, significant improvements in the stability of organ transplantation could be made.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
The team proposes a process that would create genetically modified skin samples taken from pig skins, processed and sterilized, and then delivered to a patient with human burns as a graft
The team tested a number of different skin graft samples to assess their viability, and discovered that the new gene-edited sample (upper row) remained viable for 25 days in a macaque monkey, without the need for any additional immunosuppressive medication.
Human genes introduced into the samples would increase the likelihood of tissue binding with the host, while eliminating a specific number of pig genes could eliminate the chemical triggers that cause the host’s immune system to attack and kill the transplants. .
According to David Cooper, a researcher at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, the next major obstacle will be to convince regulators to approve the technology for testing on humans.
“I think any of these pigs will be suitable for a clinical trial [in humans], but first we have to persuade the regulatory authorities, “Cooper told New Scientist.
The new breakthrough was made possible by CRISPR, a microscopic technique that was invented in 2012, and that allows researchers to cut strands of DNA at specific points, introduce new strands of DNA and merge the cut ends again.
HOW DOES THE CRISPR DNA EDITION WORK?
The CRISPR gene editing technique is increasingly being used in health research because it can change the basic components of the body.
On a basic level, CRISPR functions as a DNA cutting and pasting operation.
Technically called CRISPR-Cas9, the process involves sending new strands of DNA and enzymes to organisms to edit their genes.
In humans, genes act as planes for many processes and characteristics in the body: they dictate everything from the color of the eyes and hair to whether or not you have cancer.
The components of CRISPR-Cas9, the DNA sequence and the enzymes needed to implant it, are often sent to the body at the back of a harmless virus so scientists can control where they are going.
Cas9 enzymes can cut strands of DNA, effectively shutting down a gene, or remove sections of DNA to replace them with CRISPR, which are new sections sent to change the gene and have an effect that has been preprogrammed to produce.
But the process is controversial because it could be used to change babies in the womb, initially to treat diseases, but it could lead to an increase in ‘designer babies’ as doctors offer ways to change embryonic DNA.
Source: Broad institute