Experts say they are using pig guts to make new body parts at Pittsburgh’s McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
The liver, skin and small intestines of a pig apparently provide a large quantity of the material needed to regenerate tissue.
The material, or matrix, researchers say is the connective tissue that gives our body parts structure, like a scaffolding made mostly out of collagen.
According to Dr Stephan Badylak, “a pig’s collagen and other molecules that are in the matrix are quite similar to our collagen”.
The cells have all been washed away and the remaining matrix can then be shaped into the body parts that are to be replaced in a human being.
During the body healing process, the matrix releases chemical signals to a person’s own stem cells to come and grow and become a blood vessel, a windpipe, or part of the stomach.
“It may take five to seven years for this treatment to become mainstream,” states Badylak. “Human trials are to begin in Argentina first and hopefully in the US next year.”