Xenotransplantation Essay

1092 words - 5 pages

Xenotransplantation originate from Greek “xenos-” meaning “foreign”. It is the transplant or use of live nonhuman animal cells, tissues and organs in humans or between different species. A similar approach is called allotransplantation which is the same procedure, just within the same species. These cells and organs can be implanted or enclosed in a device that is used outside the body ("ex vivo perfusion"). Xenotransplantation can help human beings suffering from organ failure to save lives. Every day between ten and eighteen people die while being on a waiting list for an organ transplant, and the development of the technology that deals with xenotransplantation could possibly contribute ...view middle of the document...

These might not be as well fit for their new host body as their previous, increasing the chance for rejection of the graft. When it comes to pig-human grafting (which is the most common form of xenotransplantation), the main problem is the GGTA1 (Glycoprotein Galactosyltransferase alpha 1-3)-gene. This gene is not very well tolerated by the human body, and as pigs do not only have one of this gene in every cell, but in fact two, regular pig-grafts would be considered toxic by the immune system of a human. Thus the whole transplantation would go to waste. As the ultimate fix for this problem, scientists take a fetal cell from a female pig. They replace one of the GGTA1-genes with a nonfunctional gene in the pigs DNA, and then they multiply the cell. The next step is to inject a pig-egg, fertilized by the modified fetal cells, into a female pig. When the clone-piglet is born, it has only one of these GGTA1-genes, and yet again, a few months later breeding the new cloned pig with another cloned pig, will produce litters with no GGTA1-genes at all. These pigs are ready for use in xenotransplantation.

Xenotransplantation has contributed to lifesaving medical care and a tremendous progress in both technology and research within the medical profession the recent years. Although several experts and scientists have chosen to welcome the breakthrough of the new option for transplantation, a lot of people have decided to stick together against the use of animal cells and organs within the modern technological development. Xenotransplantation has in many cases been seen as a heartless and unethical way of harming animals for our own needs and benefits, and has raised several inconvenient questions about the ethics in the creation of animal-human hybrids. A lot of opponents have also discussed the possibility of a change in the basic characteristics of human beings by replacing organs, as well as taking the rules, ethics and traditions of religions such as Islam and Judaism into account. Nevertheless, do we have an ethical obligation to develop this technology to save human lives? Xenotransplantation has contributed to an impressive improvement in the possibilities of life extension, but is it really ethically right that animals should suffer for humans? It is absolutely essential that we consider all these crucial questions while deciding the...

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