Pigs Being Used to Grow Human Organs?!

Recent research is testing whether or not human organs can be grown in pigs! Now, this may sound a little wild, however, this challenge to science is really quite interesting.

Let’s delve into this and how exactly these tests work. The process is completed in stages, with the first stage using CRISPR gene editing. This technique takes away the gene that codes for the growth of a specific pig organ. Human stem cells are then injected into the embryo which had the pig organ gene taken away. This is done with hopes that when the embryo is placed into a mother pig, the human organ would grow inside the embryo which could one day be removed and placed on a human transplant.

Now that we know the “how” let’s investigate the why. The American Transplant Foundation reports that 22 people die every day waiting for organ donations and those who remain alive as they wait often suffer deeply. The goal of this research is to save human lives so that the number of people who die while waiting for an organ to save them can be greatly, if not totally, reduced. Also, this project opens the possibility of using the organ recipient’s own stem cells as an injection into the embryo which would then end the need for the patient to take immune-suppressing drugs for the rest of their life, as their body will not reject an organ it sees as its’ own.

Why is anyone opposed? Well, there are a few reasons. There is a risk that the baby pigs could develop human-like brains. So far the tests have been cut off at a certain timeline, therefore, preventing this from happening. Another worry is that the pigs DNA could alter the injected DNA. Lastly, many question whether or not it is ethical to grow pigs solely for the need of an organ for a human.

Personally, I think the gain is bigger than the risk. We know for a fact that people are dying and suffering as they wait for their organs. We do not know for certain what could happen with the pig embryos, but if this new method can save lives, then I am all for it! Farms currently grow pigs to sell them as bacon, sausage and other various forms of meat. So why not use them to grow an organ, save a life, and then put them in a grocery store. Would that in itself cause another ethical question? Would people buy bacon made by a pig that also made a human organ? There are so many hypotheticals, but based on the facts, this could prove to be very beneficial.

Watch the video and read the article here! Leave your opinion in the comments below.

https://ww2.kqed.org/learning/2017/02/15/should-pigs-be-used-to-grow-human-organs/

Ghost in Your Genes Movie Review

I absolutely loved watching this movie, for a multitude of reasons!

  1. The movie did a GREAT job of hooking the viewer through suspenseful music, flickering images and intriguing questions.
  2. Twins run in my family, therefore there is a possibility that I may have them!
  3. I adore genetics and more so love puzzles like why twins with the exact same genome differ in diseases and disorders!

Building off of number 3, learning about epigenetics has only increased my love for the overall topic of genetic sciences as a whole! In Ghost in Your Genes, the scientists revealed that an epigenome is defined as above the genome, but in layman’s terms…

The software that tells the computer, how, where, and how much to do.

Basically, twins can have the exact same genome, however their epigenetics will switch different traits on and off. For example, twins A & B have different epigenetics, which is how twin B can have autism while twin A does not. Scientists also did tests which showcased that one’s epigenome can change based upon the nurture of their mother as shown by rats. This only adds to the large biological question of nature vs. nurture.

The choices one makes in life, the events that happen to them, and the way they are raised all affect their epigenome. People who sufer from traumatic childhoods often showcase similar mental effects, as seen in many serial killers. Science can explain why some people murder multiple people while people raised in the same circumstances do not. Which is also why I loved this movie because I have always wondered what creates a serial killer.

The last thing the movie covered was how scientists in Sweden were able to connect the affects of famine on the grandparents to their children. If a grandpa was effected by famine in his early childhood, then his grandson should live for an extended period of time. However if a grandma was effected by famine while she was in the womb, then her granddaughter will most likely die early. Small differences in the lives of the grandparent can change the life of their following generations.

All of this new information completely boggles my mind! Your outside life can effect what traits are turned on and off for you? The lives of your previous generations can affect your life today? Twins can be 100% the same and yet 100% different? This movie was short, fun, and amazingly scientific! if you have the opportunity to watch then I certainly recommend!