Growing Human Organs Inside Pigs Could Save Lives, But the U.S. Won't Fund the Research

Growing Human Organs Inside Pigs Could Save Lives, But the U.S. Won't Fund the Research

Pigs in a barn.

(© caspernhdk/Adobe)


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Alejandro De Los Angeles
Alejandro De Los Angeles is a visiting researcher at Yale University. He has done research at several leading institutions, including Stanford, Yale, Columbia, and the Genome Institute of Singapore. A Connecticut native, he has published over 25 papers on stem cells and human-animal interspecies chimeras. Alejandro’s research has focused on identifying stem cells capable of forming interspecies chimeras. Recently, Alejandro discovered a new type of monkey pluripotent stem cell that might possess the capability of forming interspecies chimeras. He also showed that the same method works in human stem cells. De Los Angeles’s work has appeared in major scientific journals, including the top journal Nature. In addition to his scientific work in the laboratory, he also collaborates with bioethicists and recently co-edited a book on chimera research and ethics titled, “Chimera Research,” published by Springer Nature.
This man spent over 70 years in an iron lung. What he was able to accomplish is amazing.

Paul Alexander spent more than 70 years confined to an iron lung after a polio infection left him paralyzed at age 6. Here, Alexander uses a mirror attached to the top of his iron lung to view his surroundings.

Allison Smith / The Guardian

It’s a sight we don’t normally see these days: A man lying prone in a big, metal tube with his head sticking out of one end. But it wasn’t so long ago that this sight was unfortunately much more common.

In the first half of the 20th century, tens of thousands of people each year were infected by polio—a highly contagious virus that attacks nerves in the spinal cord and brainstem. Many people survived polio, but a small percentage of people who did were left permanently paralyzed from the virus, requiring support to help them breathe. This support, known as an “iron lung,” manually pulled oxygen in and out of a person’s lungs by changing the pressure inside the machine.

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Sarah Watts

Sarah Watts is a health and science writer based in Chicago.

When doctors couldn’t stop her daughter’s seizures, this mom earned a PhD and found a treatment herself.

Savannah Salazar (left) and her mother, Tracy Dixon-Salazaar, who earned a PhD in neurobiology in the quest for a treatment of her daughter's seizure disorder.

LGS Foundation

Twenty-eight years ago, Tracy Dixon-Salazaar woke to the sound of her daughter, two-year-old Savannah, in the midst of a medical emergency.

“I entered [Savannah’s room] to see her tiny little body jerking about violently in her bed,” Tracy said in an interview. “I thought she was choking.” When she and her husband frantically called 911, the paramedic told them it was likely that Savannah had had a seizure—a term neither Tracy nor her husband had ever heard before.

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Sarah Watts

Sarah Watts is a health and science writer based in Chicago.