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  • Julie Collorafi

Columbia University Megan Sykes' Gruesome Humanized Mice Experiment with Fetal Liver and Thymus

In previous articles I have documented how NIH-funded researcher Dr. Megan Sykes, the Director of the Columbia University Department for Translational Immunology, has for many years been developing a HIS (human immune system) mouse engrafted with fetal thymus and liver.


Dr. Sykes operates a Humanized Mice Core program which has "over 25 years of experience developing hu-mouse models with functional human hematopoietic and lymphoid systems . . . we have pioneered novel humanized mouse models with robust, functional human immune systems." These mice are currently offered on the Columbia University Research website for COVID-19 vaccine research.


Most interestingly, Dr. Sykes has collaborated extensively with Chinese scientists in the United States and in China, training them in humanized mice technology in NIH-funded experiments.


In this article I discuss how she worked with Yong-Guang Yang, a scientist from the The First Hospital of Jilin University (国际教育学院), one of China's premier national hospitals, on eighteen NIH-funded studies on BLT mice.


In a second article I document how Dr. Sykes worked with a number of researchers from the First Hospital of Jilin University on three NIH-funded studies from 2016 to 2019. Separately, Dr. Yong-Guang Yang collaborated with Jilin University scientists on eight more NIH-funded studies involving fetal liver and thymus from aborted babies from 2014 to 2020.


I have since discovered a most gruesome 2019 study published by Dr. Sykes with a series of photos illustrating her method of removing a mouse thymus and replacing it with fetal human thymus and engrafting the mouse with hematopoietic CD34+ cells obtained from fetal human liver. Fetal human liver and thymus were obtained from Advanced Biosciences Resource.


Entitled "Rapid thymectomy of NSG mice to analyze the role of native and grafted thymi in humanized mice," the study was conducted by Megan Sykes and researchers from Columbia University:




The purpose of the study is to show how engraftment of fetal human thymus combined with the engraftment of fetal human liver results higher levels of human T cell reconstitution.


This image shows how the engrafted human fetal thymus on the left is far larger and has a greater cell count than the image on the right of the mouse's native thymus:




There is also a series of images showing their method for rapidly removing the native thymus from a mouse.


Interestingly, the authors state that they engrafted thymic tissue from 4 y/o or 13 y/o donors. In addition, they injected fetal liver-derived CD34+ cells


To assess the reconstituting ability of pediatric thymus without the confounding

effect of a native mouse thymus, we grafted 3–5 pieces of thymus tissue from 4

y/o or 13 y/o donors under the kidney capsule of thymectomized NSG mice and intravenously injected fetal liver-derived CD34+ cells.


However, in the Supplementary Material pdf, which I downloaded, it states in the section on "Generation of humanized mice" that "discarded human fetal thymus and liver tissues (gestational age 17 to 20 weeks) . . . obtained from Advanced Biosciences Resource" were used and has no information about 4 y/o or 13 y/o donors.

Full details on how the mice were constructed reveals that the thymus of each mouse was removed, the mice were sublethally irradiated and injected with CD34+ cells derived from human fetal liver. Two weeks later, each mouse was transplanted with fragments of human fetal thymus. (Again, no mention of 4 y/o or 13 y/o donors.)


In the Acknowledgments section, the authors state that this study was supported by two grants from NIAID:

Another discrepancy I have noted: on the Columbia University website which offers Megan Sykes' Human Immune System mice for COVID-19 research, only human fetal thymus is mentioned and not human fetal liver:



Dr. Sykes is committed to using humanized mice engrafted with aborted baby organs standard medical practice, and this 2019 study aimed to make the transplantation of aborted baby organs onto mice simpler and easier for other researchers to replicate.


Given her history of collaboration with scientists from China here and at a top medical university hospital in China, it is almost certain that this sophisticated humanized mice technology has been transferred to scientists in China, all at US taxpayer expense.

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