Japanese researchers have hit on a stem cell breakthrough that they say could essentially solve the organ shortages problem—but fair warning, it’s weird. By injecting stem cells from rats into the embryos of mice that had been genetically modified to be unable to grow their own organs, the researchers have been able to create mice with rat organs. And they believe the same process could be used to create pigs with human parts, the Telegraph reports.
The scientists have already made pigs with human blood, using human blood stem cells. “We are now rather confident in generating functional human organs using this approach,” the lead researcher said. Bonus: Using stem cells from the intended organ recipient could significantly lower the risk of rejection. The most immediate application might be for diabetes—in the mice test, the organ generated happened to be a pancreas, the organ that produces insulin. (Read more stem cells stories.)