In an effort to tackle the organ donor shortage, researchers in the United States have successfully created part-human, part-pig embryos and implanted them into a sow. Eventually, these animals could act as incubators for human organs, which concerns some ethicists.
To be clear: you can use your own cells in the pig chimera and get organs that are fully compatible with your own, genetically. While we hopefully figure out how to construct organs from scratch quickly and relatively cheaply, for the time being this is the best way to produce fully functional organs reliably.
CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?
In 1953 a woman known only as “Mrs. McK” entered a blood clinic in northern England. She was there to donate: it was a routine trip, a common gesture of goodwill, but the act would permanently alter Mrs. McK’s perception of herself as well as genetic knowledge of what constitutes an individual body. After Mrs. McK donated her blood and perhaps ate a cookie and drank some juice, she sorted herself out, returned home; in all likelihood she believed that her day had been unremarkable. And for her, it had been. But the piece of herself that she had left at the clinic—that bag of blood meant for a stranger—would have a dizzying journey.
Fascinating read! I’ve got posts that cover rare blood types and logistics, but nothing about have two distinct blood types. The fact that Mrs McK had the twins blood after 30 years says that it is indeed produced by her body – current belief is that a red blood cell lasts 4 months, white cells last 18-36 hours before removal, and platelets have a lifespan of 9-10 days.
Biologists have been mixing the DNA of different animals since the 1970s, but the idea of injecting the genes of animals into humans remains taboo. Called transgenics, it’s a practice that could cure illness in the future — and eventually reshape our species. Here’s what you need to know about it.