You are here: HomeEthics News

Ethics News

Human organs grown in pigs may help transplant patients

The shortage of organs for transplants and consequent deaths on the waiting list are well described, but a recent US bid to grow human organs for transplant inside pigs raises complex ethical issues:

Human pig chimeras are a blend of human and pig characteristics. Here the plan is to take a skin cell from a person in need of an organ and turn it back in time to make stem cells capable of producing any cell or tissue in the body – or induced pluripotent stem cells. These cells will then be injected into a newly fertilised pig embryo that has undergone a technique known as CRISPR gene editing to remove DNA, which would hopefully enable the resulting foetus to grow a human pancreas.

Concerns of those who usually object to any such advances are mixed with animal rights activist and temper the desperate patients who desire the hope of a better future.