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The chimaeras of nature and their promise to grow human organs

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    27th Nov, 2023

Context:

In a recent landmark study, scientists reported successfully generating a live chimaera in non-human primates.

Chimaeras in nature:

  • genetic chimaera is a single organism composed of cells of more than one distinct genotype (or genetic makeup).
  • The animal kingdom has several examples of varying degrees of chimerism.
  • The half-sider budgerigar, a type of common parakeet widely adopted as pets, has different colours on either side of its body due to chimerism.
  • The anglerfish displays an extreme degree of symbiotic chimerism in which the male fish fuses with and is eventually absorbed into the female fish, mixing their genetic makeups into a single animal.
  • Marine sponges are known to have up to four distinct genotypes in a single organism.

Background:

  • At present, more than 3 lakh people are waiting for an organ transplant in India alone; the global number is far higher, with no respite in sight.
  • There is an alarming disparity in the number of organ donorsand the number of recipients – and animals have played an important part in filling this gap.

About Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) technology:

  • The successful application of animal insulin and the more recent use of animal heart valves in human surgeries have saved human lives
  • Researchers have also made attempts to grow full human organs inside the bodies of animals using advancements in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) technology.

Chimaeras in nature:

  • genetic chimaera is a single organism composed of cells of more than one distinct genotype (or genetic makeup).
  • The animal kingdom has several examples of varying degrees of chimerism.
  • The half-sider budgerigar, a type of common parakeet widely adopted as pets, has different colours on either side of its body due to chimerism.
  • The anglerfish displays an extreme degree of symbiotic chimerism in which the male fish fuses with and is eventually absorbed into the female fish, mixing their genetic makeups into a single animal.
  • Marine sponges are known to have up to four distinct genotypes in a single organism.

Significance of Chimeric Research:

  • New Frontiers:As such, this study opens new doors for scientists to use non-human primates to create chimaeras that could become models for basic and translational biomedical applications in the near future.
  • Ethical Issues:Just like other advances in science, this study wasn’t without limitations and ethical quandaries – and which we must address before thinking about the human biomedical applications.

Verifying, please be patient.

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