(ORLANDO, Fla.) - Researchers at the UCF College of Medicine are working on a medical breakthrough that sounds like science fiction, but it could revolutionize the world of organ transplants, and other complicated procedures.
The idea is to grow a human organ inside of a pig's kidney.
Since pig kidneys are so similar to human organs, they serve as an ideal template. Researchers use soaps and detergents to wash out the pig cells, leaving a pink lump. Human kidney cells are then placed inside and left to grow into a fully-functioning organ.
In practice, this breakthrough in medicine would reduce transplant patients' risk of rejection.
"Rejection is typically most associated with the cells that are there. So, if you get an organ from someone else, it's their cells, and your body recognizes it as something foreign," said Dr. Bradley Willenberg from the Department of Internal Medicine.
A kidney grown out of someone's own cells would be less likely to get rejected for that reason.
"Tthis is difficult, it could take 10 or 20 years to do," said Dr. Edward Ross, Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and leader for this project.
Researchers are also having success growing human pancreas cells inside of pig kidneys. That medical advance would be used to help diabetics get insulin from a pancreas made from their own cells.
Read more about the project on the UCF College of Medicine website.