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.