An Israeli institute sees opportunities how to use pig embryo transplants for curing genetic diseases.
According to the Weizmann Institute, based in Rehovot, Israel, pig embryo tissue could induce the human body to produce blood-clotting proteins for haemophilia patients and other critical substances to cure disease.
In a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, immunology professor Yair Reisner and colleagues showed how such a transplant could be made feasible.
In haemophilia, a mutated gene prevents the production of a critical blood-clotting protein – treatments to this have been proved not without risk. If the body could be induced to begin producing these proteins by transplanting healthy tissue having the abilities that are lacking, this would constitute a cure.
Reisner and his lab team found that taking spleen tissue from embryonic pigs during the 42nd day of gestation exhibits optimal growth potential as well as secreting Factor 8, the blood-clotting protein missing in haemophiliacs.
In haemophiliac mice, the treatment worked within a month or two of implantation.
Although a number of problems would need to be overcome before researchers could begin to think of applying the technique to humans, the Rehovot researchers say that the experiment is “proof of principal”.