According to the New York Times, using the powerful gene-editing tool Crispr, scientists changed 62 pig genes at once in the hope of making pig organs available for transplant into humans. The experiment is not without controvery.
Dr. Church’s experiment had its origins in the shortage of organs for transplants. Thousands of people die each year waiting for hearts, lungs and livers.
“It’s a cruel situation currently, that someone who needs a heart transplant has to pin their chance for a healthy life on the untimely death of another person,” said David A. Dunn, an expert on transplantation at the State University of New York at Oswego.
Meanwhile, Bioengineer.org reports on a breakthrough in which scientists were able to create a working animal limb in a lab.
“The composite nature of our limbs makes building a functional biological replacement particularly challenging,” explains Harald Ott, MD, of the MGH Department of Surgery and the Center for Regenerative Medicine, senior author of the paper. “Limbs contain muscles, bone, cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and nerves – each of which has to be rebuilt and requires a specific supporting structure called the matrix. We have shown that we can maintain the matrix of all of these tissues in their natural relationships to each other, that we can culture the entire construct over prolonged periods of time, and that we can repopulate the vascular system and musculature.”
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