Read our landmark paper “Chimeric Pigs Produced from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Demonstrate Germline Transmission and No Evidence of Tumor Formation in Young Pigs” published in the journal Stem Cells- one of the leading stem cell journals in the world. This article highlights how stringent analysis of chimeric pigs at multiple ages showed that tumors were not formed despite significant incorporation of pig induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). This suggests that iPCS that are transplanted into humans can do so safely, however a significant number of safety and efficacy studies are still needed.
In addition, piPSCs were capable of integrating into the germline (e.g. eggs) of female chimeric pigs. This revolutionary breakthrough can enhance the ability of producing complex genetically modified pigs that can be used to generate humanized animals to better study devastating diseases such as diabetes and atherosclerosis in ways not previously possible. These models could be used to develop new procedures and treatments to help the ever growing patient populations.
Every year hundreds of patients die because they are unable to receive an organ transplant from a matched donor. One life saving alternative to provide organs for these patients is xenotranplantation- the transplantation of pig, or other appropriate non-human donor, organs to humans. However, organs that could be potentially transplanted from pigs to humans would be rejected by the immune system. To overcome immune rejection it is possible to genetically engineer pigs using this ground breaking pig iPSC technology that would enable the removal or addition of numerous genes. This would mask the foreign “signature” of the transplanted pig organ and prevent immune rejection. The development of immune privileged organs would make it possible for the first time to produce organs and tissues that are safe to transplant into humans, saving thousands of lives.
Come visit the West Lab poster “Pig Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells are Capable of Generating Normal Chimeric Pigs and Undergo Neural Differentiation In Vitro” at the Swine in Biomedical Research Conference 2011 in Chicago (July 17 to 19, 2011).
The West Lab presented some of their groundbreaking research focusing on tumorigenicity and developmental aspects of chimeric pigs derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. The poster raised a number of critical questions in the field including what aspects enable some iPSCs to be chimeric competent and others are not. The evolving discussion of chimeric competence revolved mostly around epigenetic changes that occur during the reprogramming process particularly the resetting of imprinting genes- genes from which alleles are differentially expressed based on parental origin. There was also significant talk on the differences in tumorigenicity between cell lines. Ultimately, these discussions highlighted the need for further research to fully ascertain what makes an iPSC chimeric competent and lowly tumorigenic.