Scientists intend to create compatible organ transplants for human recipients from pigs
They are utilizing “CRISPR” technology to create pigs with human DNA. Science is now a step closer to genetically modifying pigs to be more human-like.
This brings hope to desperate people wishing to prolong their lives or the lives of their loved ones. Major investors are banking on xenotransplantation. They have a personal interest in speeding up research in order to save their own loved ones.
Biotechnology executive, Martine Rothblatt’s daughter suffers from a potentially fatal lung disease. This encouraged her to inject around $50 million into pig-human organ transplant research.
This enormous financial incentive has enabled the research to speed ahead. Scientists kept a baboon alive, using a pig’s genetically modified heart, for 945 days. Similar experiments involved a kidney swap between the two species.
How will scientists make human pig chimeras for organ harvesting?
CRISPR is the biotechnology that scientists are employing to create human-pig chimeras. CRISPR has been the biggest breakthrough that changed the science of genetic engineering. Previous methods for engineering the DNA in genes were less reliable. CRISPR utilizes RNA, rather than proteins, to change or mutate DNA sequences.
Pig embryos will have their DNA altered to contain human DNA sequences. Scientists claim this will produce organs compatible with a human transplant, within the pig. However, researchers stress that it is still a long way away.
Biotechnology startup company, eGenesis are making headway in this chimera research using CRISPR
The company was co-founded by George Church, a Harvard Medical School geneticist, and Chief Scientific Officer Luhan Yang. They are working to eliminate all the perceived obstacles currently preventing xenotransplantation.
Animal to human organ transplants are wrought with many risks and dangers
At the turn of the 20th century, mad scientists beginning experimenting with xenotransplantation. But they would only end up killing their human patients. The human immune system violently rejects animal organs.
By creating pigs with human DNA, the scientists hope to “humanize” the pig’s immune system. They hope to avoid humans rejecting pig organs. Cloned pigs will breed in sterile environments in order to try to avoid catching viruses. Viruses that are harmless to pigs can be deadly to humans.
Human Rights for Pigs?
Understandably, the ethical and moral dilemmas of creating pig-human chimeras are numerous. Most countries of the world have inflamed discourses over abortion. When does life begin? What is human life? What defines a human? Would killing pig-human chimeras be the same as murder?
Animal rights activists and religious fundamentalists already are creating an outcry. “Campaign for Responsible Transplantation” (CRT) is a non-profit organization that opposes xenotransplantation.
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