Tag: xenotransplantation

Bioethics News

Why People May Have Pig Organs Inside Them One Day

August 25, 2017

Be the first to like.
Share

That’s why a recent landmark report in the journal Science, which detailed the creation of piglets that could potentially provide organs for human transplants in the future, is being heralded as a “real game changer.” R esearchers from Harvard University, the biotech company eGenesis and other institutions explained how they used cloning and the gene-editing technology CRISPR to create pigs that may be used for human organ transplants down the line—if further research proves them safe and effective.

The findings have obvious implications for the many people waiting for a transplant. But one of the lead study authors, George Church, a geneticist at Harvard and founder of eGenesis, says the promise of pig organs that are compatible with humans may be even bigger. If pig organs could be engineered to be even healthier and more durable than the average human organ—which Church believes is possible—they could have a profound effect on human health and longevity, he says.

Image: By Jim Champion – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2944663

Be the first to like.
Share

TIME

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Gene Editing Spurs Hope for Transplanting Pig Organs Into Humans

August 11, 2017

Be the first to like.
Share

The experiments, reported on Thursday in the journal Science, may make it possible one day to transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans, a hope that experts had all but given up.

If pig organs were shown to be safe and effective, “they could be a real game changer,” said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s transplant system.

There were 33,600 organ transplants last year, and 116,800 patients on waiting lists, according to Dr. Klassen, who was not involved in the new study. “There’s a big gap between organ supply and organ demand,” he said.

… Read More

Image eGenesis

Be the first to like.
Share

NYTimes

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

No Pain, All Gain: The Case for Farming Organs in Brainless Humans

Guest post by Ruth Stirton, University of Sussex (@RuthStirton) and David Lawrence, Newcastle University (@Biojammer)

It is widely acknowledged that there is a nationwide shortage of organs for transplantation purposes.  In 2016, 400 people died whilst on the organ waiting list.  Asking for donors is not working fast enough.  We should explore all avenues to alleviate this problem, which must include considering options that appear distasteful.  As the world gets safer, and fewer young people die in circumstances conducive to the donation of their organs, there is only so much that increased efficiency in collection (through improved procedures and storage) can do to increase the number of human organs available for transplantation. Xenotransplantation – the transplantation of animal organs into humans – gives us the possibility of saving lives that we would certainly lose otherwise.

There are major scientific hurdles in the way of transplanting whole animal organs into humans, including significant potential problems with incompatibility and consequent rejection.  There is, however, useful similarity between human and pig cells, which means that using pigs as the source of organs is the most likely to be viable.  Assuming, for the moment, that we can solve the scientific challenges with doing so, the bigger issue is the question of whether we should engage in xenotransplantation.

A significant challenge to this practice is that it is probably unethical to use an animal in this way for the benefit of humans. Pigs in particular have a relatively high level of sentience and consciousness, which should not be dismissed lightly. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Genetically Modified Pigs Could Ease Organ Shortage

December 2, 2016

(The Wall Street Journal) – There are more than 120,000 people in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant and not enough donors. The dire shortage has led some researchers to consider an unusual solution: They are breeding genetically modified pigs whose organs could be compatible for human transplant. Researchers have been trying for decades to make animal-to-human transplants work, a process known as xenotransplantation. Pigs are a particularly promising source of organs. They produce big litters. Organs such as the kidney and liver are similar in size to those of humans.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Genome editing – the key ethical issues

Written by Dr Christopher Gyngell

This article originally appeared on the OMS website

The Nuffield Council of Bioethics released a report last Friday outlining the key ethical issues raised by genome editing technologies.

Genome editing (GE) is a powerful, and extremely rapidly developing technology. It uses engineered enzymes to make precise, controlled modification to DNA. It has the potential to radically transform many industries, including medicine, agriculture and ecology.  Despite only being developed in the past few years’, GE has already been used to create malaria-fighting mosquitoes, drought resistant wheat, hornless cows and cancer killing immune cells. The potential applications of GE in a decade are difficult to imagine. It raises a wide range of ethical issues that require careful scrutiny.

The Nuffield Council of Bioethics has formed a working group to analyse these issues. Their report titled “Genome editing: an ethical review”, is the first output of this working group.  It is a mapping project which identifies the major ethical issues arising from GE.

The report identifies several areas of GE that raise pressing ethical issues.  GE for human reproduction, and GE in livestock, are classed as requiring ‘urgent’ attention. GE for the purposes of xenotransplantation, and to alter wild populations of mosquitoes (and other disease causing animals), are classed as requiring attention ‘in the near future’.

It is unsurprising that genome editing for human reproduction is listed as requiring urgent attention. It has been at the centre of public debates about GE since scientists used the technology to alter human embryos for the first time last year.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

New Approaches Offer Hope for Replacing Beta Cells in Diabetes

June 14, 2016

(Medscape) – Two innovative new approaches to replacing pancreatic beta cells offer hope for treating both type 1 and type 2 diabetes in the future, experts say. On June 10 here at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2016 Scientific Sessions, David KC Cooper, MD, PhD, of the Thomas E Starzl Transplantation Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, discussed his work on pig islet xenotransplantation using genetically engineered donor pigs, and Chad A Cowan, PhD, of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, spoke about universal donor stem cells created via a technique called “gene editing.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Human-pig ‘chimeras’ may provide vital transplant organs, but come with ethical dilemmas too

Growing human organs in pigs mean they’re doing our dirty work for us.

Organ transplantation is one of modern medicine’s success stories, but it is hampered by a scarcity of donor organs. Figures for the UK published by the NHS Blood and Transport Service show that 429 patients died in 2014-2015 while awaiting an organ. What’s more, many of the 807 removed from the waiting list will have been removed because they became too ill to receive an organ, and are likely to have died as a result.

So while there is a strong ethical imperative to increase the supply of donor organs, many of the methods tried or proposed – presumed consent, allowing organs to be bought and sold, and using lower-grade organs such as those from donors with HIV – are themselves controversial. And even if we accept these approaches it’s unlikely they will be sufficient to meet the demand.

Gene editing techniques such as CRISPR could provide the answer. These techniques allow us to make precise changes in the DNA of living organisms with exciting prospects for treating disease – for example by modifying human DNA to remove genes that cause disease or insert genes associated with natural immunity to conditions such as HIV/AIDS. However, gene editing the DNA of animals could prove equally important for the medical treatment of humans.

Scientists are now working on a technique that would allow human organs to be grown inside pigs. The DNA within a pig embryo that enables it to grow a pancreas is deleted, and human stem cells are injected into the embryo.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Human-pig ‘chimeras’ may provide vital transplant organs, but they raise ethical dilemmas

Growing human organs in pigs mean they’re doing our dirty work for us.

Organ transplantation is one of modern medicine’s success stories, but it is hampered by a scarcity of donor organs. Figures for the UK published by the NHS Blood and Transport Service show that 429 patients died in 2014-2015 while awaiting an organ. What’s more, many of the 807 removed from the waiting list will have been removed because they became too ill to receive an organ, and are likely to have died as a result.

So while there is a strong ethical imperative to increase the supply of donor organs, many of the methods tried or proposed – presumed consent, allowing organs to be bought and sold, and using lower-grade organs such as those from donors with HIV – are themselves controversial. And even if we accept these approaches it’s unlikely they will be sufficient to meet the demand.

Gene editing techniques such as CRISPR could provide the answer. These techniques allow us to make precise changes in the DNA of living organisms with exciting prospects for treating disease – for example by modifying human DNA to remove genes that cause disease or insert genes associated with natural immunity to conditions such as HIV/AIDS. However, gene editing the DNA of animals could prove equally important for the medical treatment of humans.

Scientists are now working on a technique that would allow human organs to be grown inside pigs. The DNA within a pig embryo that enables it to grow a pancreas is deleted, and human stem cells are injected into the embryo.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Producing human organs in animal chimeras raises objective medical and ethical problems

The major medical and social problems in organ transplantation owing to the increasing shortage of donor organs is well known. Solutions must therefore be sought in the fairly near future that can resolve these issues. One of these is the production of animal chimeras in which quasi-human organs can be developed. This has been attempted using human embryonic stem cells injected into mice (Nature 521; 316-321, 2015), but the practice raises significant problems, from both a medical and ethical perspective. The main difficulty from a medical point of view is that, since this is an allogeneic material, it can give rise to as yet unresolved problems with immune rejection. The use of embryonic stem cell also entails what I would call insurmountable ethical difficulties, since obtaining these types of cells requires the destruction of human embryos. Furthermore, the transplanted human cells can colonise the organs of the recipient animal, so animals may be generated with practically human organs, which means great new ethical challenges.

Aside from the use of human embryonic stem cells, though, new possibilities have now been opened for these types of experiments with the development of adult somatic cell reprogramming from which so-called iPS cells can be derived. Since these can be obtained from somatic cells of the individual requiring the transplant, they minimise immune rejection. This is an attractive therapeutic possibility that looks likely to be implemented in the fairly near future.

An interesting article on this topic was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics last year (41; 970-974, 2015).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

No monkey business: pig to baboon organ transplants increasingly successful

A team of researchers in the US have performed a series of remarkably successful interspecies organ transplants. Specifically, they transplanted genetically modified pigs hearts into baboons and kept the ‘graft organs’ alive for a median of 300 days.

The researchers, led by Muhammad M. Mohiuddin of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in Maryland, published a paper detailing their findings in Nature Communications this week.

Mohiuddin and his colleagues transplanted genetically modified ‘human-like’ pigs hearts into the baboons while administering a series of special drugs to prevent rejection. Importantly, the researchers didn’t remove the baboon’s own heart, but rather connected an additional heart to the circulatory system of the animals, allowing their own hearts to beat as normal.

With their targeted interventions, the researchers managed to keep the hearts (and the baboons) healthy for many months, and one survived for 945 days.

The researchers say that new-targeted interventions, such as the blocking of communication between immune cells and the administering of blood thinners, allowed for greatly increased organ survival.

“These hearts could have gone even longer, but we wanted to test to see if the animals had developed some kind of tolerance to the organs,” Mohiuddin told science magazine The Verge.

Several research teams around the world are conducting similar research into xenotransplantation – the transplantation of tissue or organs from one species to another – in a bid to address the ubiquitous problem of organ shortages. 

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.