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Collaborative Success Stories: Transplant Triumph

Collaborative Success Stories: Transplant Triumph

University of Missouri scientists have advanced medical transplant research.

Medical transplant therapy is being investigated as a treatment for stroke, cancer, spinal cord injury and other maladies. Unfortunately, the host often rejects transplanted tissues. To solve the issue, reproductive physiologist Randall Prather developed a line of pigs with specially modified immune systems. Biochemist R. Michael Roberts implanted the pigs with human pluripotent stem cells (adult cells genetically altered to become undifferentiated cells) to test whether they would be rejected. The implanted stem cells thrived.

Pigs are anatomically similar to humans, making them excellent models for human medical treatments. “Now that we know human stem cells can thrive in these pigs, a door has been opened for new and exciting research by scientists around the world,” says Roberts. “Hopefully this means that we are one step closer to therapies and treatments for a number of debilitating human diseases.”

Dr. Randall Prather is director of the National Swine Resource and Research Center. Both he and Dr. R. Michael Roberts are Curators’ Professors in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Dr. Roberts is also a researcher in MU’s Bond Life Sciences Center.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine