Research could pave way for organs to be grown in animals for transplant even providing a cure for diabetes.
In a startling new scientific study, scientists have created the first ever human-sheep hybrids, paving the way for organs to be grown in animals which can be transplanted into humans.
The project, successfully conducted by Stanford University could even open the door to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes by creating healthy pancreases to regulate blood sugar.
While scientists have already successfully developed human-pig hybrids which sparked excitement that they could use them grow human organs, no team has been able to take it to the next step.
But Stanford's team, which has already successfully transplanted pancreases into mice, is tipped to be the first after now that they have produced a human-sheep model to use.
Speaking about it, lead author of the study, Dr Hiro Nakuachi, a professor of genetics at Stanford, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference that they have already generated a mouse pancreas in rats and then transplanted those in to diabetic mouse and were able to show almost a complete cure.
The breakthrough could also help to alleviate the global shortage of organ donors.
Thirty-two people die a day waiting for a life-saving organ.
The development comes less than two years after the US government said it would approve funding of these controversial experiments, but later backtracked after receiving more than 20,000 complaints from animal rights groups.
Pablo Ross, associate professor of animal science at the University of California, Davis who is part of leading the venture, admitted he harbors similar concerns.
Transplanting organs from pig or sheep directly to humans has not been successful but researchers believe using human stem cells may be an alternative solution.
Researchers have previously developed human-pig hybrids but have not yet been able to use the process to grow human organs
The team now plans to implant human stem cells into sheep embryos and hope that human DNA will be able to grow organs such as a pancreas.
It would be a world first if a human organ could be grown inside a sheep.