Human Organs in Pigs…

When the idea that human organs could possibly be grown in pig bodies for medical purposes, my immediate reaction was sympathy for the pigs! However, I soon began to think of the many possible benefits of having organs genetically grown in pigs.


According to U. S Department of Health and Human Services, over 119,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list, another person is added to the waiting list every ten minutes, and 22 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant; the waiting list for an organ donation continues to grow. These statistics brought an issue to light: many lives had the potential to be saved, but lack of an available organ donor has put the number to a small minimum. Thus, KQED presented a possibility: live pigs could be used as the incubator for human organs.

Scientists have studied that it is possible to grow human organs inside a sow by using CRISPR gene editing (a gene that removes the gene specific to growing a pig embryo) and injecting human stem cells into a pig embryo. If successful, organs could be used for harvest and the wait list numbers would greatly decrease.

Although this study could potentially save many lives, growing organs raises many ethical issues. Some that concern me are: How accessible would the organs be and to who? (expense wise) Could pig’s possible develop human traits and intelligence? How could this potentially affect those who live a vegan lifestyle or avoid pigs for religious reasons?

Overall, I think this is a very interesting study that could possibly change the lives the population in need of an organ transplant! However, more studies need to be conducted before these methods are used.

Click here to learn more about growing human organs in pigs!




Epigenetics- Ghost In your Genes

Epigenetics often refers heritable modifications in gene expression that are excludable from the original DNA sequence.Through previous understanding, traits have been inherited by an offspring through the both parents’ genome. Epigenetics explores how environment can have different effects of future generations. In the NOVA documentary, Ghost in Your Genes, various scientists from all over the world conduct studies on epigenetic inheritances!

A study mentioned in Ghost in Your Genes really shocked me; food patterns can have a possible effect on the health of offspring! A study conducted in a Swedish Village was based upon birth rates, mortality rates, and the harvests! The studies showed a pattern that supported that a famine could have an effect on later generations, even if they did not experience the scarcity of food. This interests me to know what habits of my ancestors could have possibly affected me.

Another study epigenetic study in the documentary was the study of identical twins. Even though identical twins have the same DNA sequence, they may grow up with differences due to environment. In a pair of identical twins, one twin had autism when the other twin did not. How could people with the same genome inhibit different traits? The answer is epigenetics!

To learn more about this fascinating study, I suggest you check out Ghost in Your Genes!