Researcher says cloned pigs could provide organs for human transplantation

A gene-editing method could one day make pig organs suitable for use in people, scientists say. – Source: ‘GM could make pig organs for humans’ – BBC News

[I]n my lifetime, I’ve seen organ transplantation go from a major news event that stunned the world to a ‘ho-hum’ commonplace event occurring on a regular basis in most large hospitals. But unlike other routine surgeries where a snip here and a stent there makes the patient all better, transplantation requires more than just medical supplies and knowledge, it requires an organ donor. According to donatelife.com, a new name is added to the organ recipient waiting list every ten minutes. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why scientists like George Church (quoted in the linked article above) might seek ‘fresh sources’ for this long list of human transplant patients. The need is genuine, Church’s proposed solution is alarming.

Even if one ignores any moral issues regarding the cloning of pigs simply to harvest their organs, the risk to anyone receiving pig organs is very real. The CRISPR method of gene-editing is still in its infancy, and there is no longterm study to determine how ‘accurate’ these edits truly are, and whether or not the affected gene might mutate or revert. Certainly, if the immediate goal is to remove retrovirus sequences from the pig DNA, then one has to prove that all such sequences were either removed or permanently silenced. That type of research takes time.

And time is something many on the waiting list simply do not have. Despite what some might think, I am not a Luddite. I love science; that’s why I chose biology, and in particular molecular biology and genetics. These tiny structures amaze me as testaments to God’s design. But I fear that we are rushing toward a future that seeks to unravel and rework God’s wonderful creation into a dystopian chimera. But theology aside, the mingling of animal organs with human beings could engender a new epidemic by exposing recipients to viruses endemic within porcine populations.

Ok, I’m off now soapbox. For now.

Printing Humans: Controversial DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures

[T]his is where genetics and scientific hubris is leading us: toward a horrifying future where anyone can print a creature based on unique DNA. Startup digital DNA company, Cambrian, will digitize your dream and ‘print’ the DNA you requested so that anyone with the funds can edit existing DNA or produce a ‘creature’ from scratch. At least that’s the marketing gimmick.

Is this really possible? Truthfully, geneticists are on the verge of getting there. The new CRISPR system of gene editing provides a robust means to insert new genetic information with relative precision (I say relative, because many researchers fear that ‘mistakes’ will likely occur from time to time, which means the new ‘gene/s’ may insert into the wrong position, possibly destroying a functional gene). Digital DNA design is certainly possible, and it’s become an industry standard. However, 3-D printers provide a new frontier that have the potential to lead to hu-bot creations that echo scifi thriller plots.

Honestly, the future is terrifying, because mankind really does have the potential to achieve almost anything. What is it that God said in Genesis?

And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. (Gen. 11:6) [emphasis added]

Mankind’s foolishness mixed with a God-given uniqueness that makes us mini-creators is dangerous. God intervened at the tower of Babel, and I pray He intervenes before science achieves Molecular Babylon. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Read about the new startup via Controversial DNA startup wants to let customers create creatures – SFGate.