Did you know that animals support humans in need of organ transplants?
When someone in the U.S. is sick and it is affecting their organs, they are in need of an organ replacement. Because so many people go through this every day, they are put on a waitlist that allows them to get an organ transplant from someone who wants to donate it, but this can take years.
So, scientists have discovered new ways to get organ transplants to people quicker. One of the most effective ways has been through transplants of animal organs to humans, which is a process called Xenotransplantation. This process works best with pigs, but they sometimes use sheep.
The template DNA (following CAS-9) will be added to the cut site of the genome (a whole bunch of DNA grouped together) after CAS-9 cuts the DNA which will make it into a whole new gene used to support organ harvesting and the process of xenotransplantation!
But how do we make sure the DNA from the human and the pig match? Scientists use another process called CRISPR which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It is basically something that naturally occurs in bacteria involving the control of fragments of unknown DNA which then provides the bacteria some knowledge of viruses to remember to fight it if it enters its cells again!
This chosen DNA is cut up with "scissors" called CAS-9 as it is guided by a "hand" called gRNA which tells the scissors where the target location is. This location is called PAM and since a codon is made of three bases, it ends in NGG, N being any other nucleotide.
For the people that need the donation, their blood or skin cells are injected into tiny developing pig babies that haven't been born yet called pre-embryos. The entire Xenotransplantation process involves the transplantation, infusion, or implantation (all of which use CRISPR!) of a combination of human cells/tissue/organs and animal cells/tissues/organs into a person. However, there are some people who say Xenotransplantation is good and helpful and others that say its bad and harmful.
On one hand, 10 people in the U.S. on the donation list die everyday waiting to receive transplants, so this method helps people survive. Also, organ harvesting from animals is far more ethical than cloning humans for organ transplants.
On the other hand, there is a risk of the animal's organ being infected with a specific disease that only affects animals which exposes the human's other organs to it, meaning they can get sick. Also, using animals for organ transplants lets some evil people mistreat the animals used for transplants which exposes many animals to cruelty.
So, if you were to need an organ transplant, would you be okay with getting your lungs replaced with pig lungs?