DailyDirt: Growing Backup Organs
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Medical science has advanced quite a bit with organ transplants, but there’s still the problem of matching donors and the “availability” of organs. Obviously, there are some ethical issues with buying/selling human organs, but getting organs from non-human mammals has its own set of problems, too. The engineering challenges are slowly being solved, and we might be able to grow backup organs in a few years. Maybe.
- Pigs have long been a leading candidate for growing replacement human organs, despite concerns over genetic differences, disease transmission and organ rejection. Still, researchers have edited over 60 genes in some pig embryos to make these animals more compatible in human transplant recipients. Don’t go destroying your liver just yet, though; it’ll be a while before these genetically engineered pigs are ready to donate their organs safely to people. [url]
- Primitive human kidneys have been grown from stem cells in a lab — possibly leading to growing more mature kidneys for organ transplants someday. The “organoids” that have been grown so far have some, but not all, of the key features that a full kidney has. So this development is still pretty far from preventing people from needing dialysis, but it could be useful for studying how kidneys react to new drugs and help researchers understand how other complex organs might be grown from stem cells. [url]
- Xenotransplantation isn’t a new idea, but getting organs from different species to avoid rejection is still a significant challenge. Genetically modified pigs have been used as organ donors for baboons with encouraging results: a baboon lived for 2.5 years with a pig heart implant, another baboon lived 4 months with a “life-sustaining” pig kidney. [url]
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