Chinese Scientists Generate Functioning Blood Cells Using Interspecies Chimerism

Scientists are constantly on the move to find out how they can make humans live longer. Since death occurs due to the loss in function of the body’s organs, they have not stopped making research on how to keep the organs functioning for longer periods. They have studied various ways to make this happen, and so far it seems the secret lies in chimerism. Chimerism is a process that involves the fusion of zygotes from two different organisms to create a new organism – a chimera.

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Interspecies Chimerism

interspecies chimerism

How does chimerism help expand the human lifespan?

Human organs made via chimerism may be able to help humans live longer. In previous research, an experiment was carried out to demonstrate how new organs can be grown via chimerism. The scientists in this study genetically engineered a rat chimera to grow pancreases for mice. When the scientists harvested the mouse pancreases from the rat, they were able to successfully use the cells to suppress diabetes in mice. Even though the pancreas cells were grown in rats, they were pure and contained only mice cells – no rat cells – and this allowed transplant of the organ without fear of rejection by the mice’s immune system.

Since this team of scientists was able to grow a new pancreas via chimerism, scientists believe that it is possible to grow other human organs like the heart and lungs inside farm animals. This would allow for the availability of organs for transplant when needed, consequently, helping to increase the life span of the individual. Although, this feat has not been achieved yet as growing a large and complex organ such as the heart would require much more than growing a simple one like the pancreas.

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However, recently another team of scientists has been able to generate functioning blood cells from interspecies chimerism, and this feat has brought the scientists one step closer to growing more complex organs in animals.

What did they do?

The team led by Prof. Pan Guangjin and Prof. Lai Liangxue was able to discover the reason interspecies chimerism experiments done in the past that involved the fusion of human pluripotent stem cells, failed. They found out that the problem lies with the human stem cells – they observed that the stem cells die off at the embryonic stage due to a growth disadvantage. To stop the apoptosis of the human stem cells, they introduced a combination of an anti-apoptotic gene BCL2 and a new factor MYCN to the stem cells while fusing them with the host animal’s stem cells.

This allowed them to collect live human blood ancestral cells from blood-deficient mice through interspecies chimerism using hPSCs. The cells which they collected can be cultured in the labs and later differentiated into different blood cell types.

Clinical significance

This study has uncovered a way around successful interspecies chimerism that involves the human pluripotent stem cell. This, in turn, has paved the way for the possibility of growing human cells, tissues, and organs in other animals, thereby, solving the shortage of organ availability for transplant when the need arises.

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The findings from the study have shown that indeed scientists are yet to show signs of slacking as they continue to make more research to discover novel ways to increase the human lifespan.


Generating functional cells through enhanced interspecies chimerism with human pluripotent stem cells



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