Growing organs for transplants in swine: a pig in a poke?

There have been a lot of recent headlines about a report that it might be possible to grow human organs in pigs.

Someone even proposed the crazy idea of using human iPS cells to make chimeric human/swing animals that contain certain human organs, which could then be harvested.  To say this is a bad idea would be a tremendous understatement. Proposing to tinker around with embryogenesis to make a human/pig chimera is nuts and just gives stem cell research opponents something to point to as bad.

I suppose alternatively, the scientists proposing this idea might imagine injecting pigs with human iPS cells with the hope of somehow directing the cells to form a useful human organ, which then could isolated. The problem even with this idea is that the “human” organ grow in a pig would be chalk full of pig proteins and other molecules that the human recipient would recognize as foreign even if the organ were made with iPS cells made from that human.

To me this whole idea sounds like what one of my old friends from Georgia would have called “a pig in a poke”.

1 Comment


  1. It is a ‘bad idea!’ A line should definitely be drawn immediately so that we save ourselves from creating new animals that are part human. It’s weird to talk about it this way, but science is moving fast. We need to voice and express these concerns before we cross the line.

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