Gene Editing. ‘IF’ We Create Chimera?


Hello welcome to IF Today we ask what happens when we start making chimeras. “In ancient civilizations, chimeras were associated with the Gods,” our ancestors thought “the chimeric forms would guard humans.” Perhaps, with today’s new creations, they can? A modern chimera is defined as an individual, organ, or a body part consisting of tissues of a diverse genetic constitution. A hybrid created through fusion of a sperm and an egg from different species a chimera. So why is this important today? Because Scientist have just created a human pig hybrid …well cells at least. This week the group of Scientists successfully implanted human stem cells inside of a pig and observed them growing. This breaking development could offer a ray of hope to those that need an organ for transplant. A heart or kidney could now possibly be harvested from a non-human donor animal. The team behind this breakthrough came from Harvard Medical School and George church college. They have been researching the possibility of diseases jumping from species to species. During their research they discovered that they could manipulate the genetics of cells and this would eliminate rejection when these cells are transplanted. Using crisper an RNA-guided targeted genome editing tool which allows researchers to knock out genes, knockin SNPs, make insertions and deletions in cell lines of an animal’s genetic code. This technology in conjunction with other medical breakthroughs such as cell printing and organ printing means we are not far from the choice of an animal human hybrid organs being available for use in transplantation. If you needed an organ would you be happy to except an organ grown in or from animal cells? Now I know there will be those that will be opposed to this idea. Some on religious grounds and others for ethical reasons. Maybe there is a fear that we will add so much foreign genetic code that we are no longer human. The fact is that we have been using animal parts in surgeries for a while now. Xenotransplantation’s have been used to help those with heart conditions. Pig heart valves being used to replace faulting human heart valves. Transplantation itself has been around since the 50s. Human-to-human organ transplantation have been successful ….and doctors have been working on animal-to-human transplants for almost as long. In the ’60s, Keith Reemtsma experimented transplanting chimpanzee kidneys into humans . Most of them failed within a few weeks, but a woman did live for nine months. Most other attempted xenotransplantation’s, especially with the heart and lungs, have had similar degrees of success. In 1984, the most famous cross-species transplantations took place. Leonard Bailey transplanted a baboon heart into a infant, Baby Fae. The heart failed after 20 days but it became a gateway for the first pediatric human-to-human heart transplant only a year later. With this recent genetic engineering, scientists have been able to keep a pig heart, and a pig kidney alive and functioning in a baboon for 136 days. So let’s take these ideas and break through’s one step further. There are many animals with abilities that a human may wish to acquire. These could be, extra abilities or to make us stronger and could even provide us a new means to stop disease and even aging. We could use a simple example, like the hawk or an eagle. Could we reach a point when doctors will be able to transplant or manipulate the cells of the human eye to make it function as well as that of the bird this then granting the owner of these news eyes greatly enhanced vision? How about changing the genetic to code to be more similar to that of apes this giving the human a denser muscle mass and more strength. These two examples are probably the most basic use, how about adding octopus genes ? these genes giving us the ability to change the colour of our skin. We could add genes from hardier animals to help us withstand disease and perhaps the Holy Grail adding genes from animals that would increase our life span? Would these manipulations mean we enhance or humanity and kinship with animals? As we change to become more alike, would we develop a more empathetic view of animals? Or would we become a monsters? These are questions that will have to be addressed. As with most medical procedures they start out as a treatment or cure but then often become an enhancement. If we do not ask questions of xenotransplantation’s and the creation of chimeras We could be opening a Pandora’s Box We do not want to find ourselves living in a world of Doctor Monroe. What do think the future holds? Do you agree with cross species transplantation? Would you like an animal organ or ability? If so what and why? Please let me know what you think in the comments below Hope you enjoyed the video As always if you liked it …please hit that like button Subscribe to keep up to date
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