Xenotransplantation: A rejection problem
A leading article in today’s edition of the Independent (UK) newspaper is claiming that “The world’s first organ grown in a laboratory has been successfully implanted in humans, heralding a new era in transplant surgery.” It’s a bladder, and apparently this organ is only going to be one of several organs artificially created in a lab.
Not only is this good news for the thousands of people on waiting lists for various organs, but it’s also ultimately good news for the animals whose organs would have been taken and given to humans instead. In fact, I remember when xenotransplantation, as the science was called, was trumpeted as the next big thing, and animal advocates were conjuring up nightmare images of tens of thousands of pharm animals being lined up and their organs harvested. Unfortunately for the pharm industry, human bodies don’t like having animal organs in them, and they kept rejecting them. I’m sure the animals weren’t impressed too much either.
Well, that was then. As the Independent reports: “[T]he research ran into the sand when it became clear that the rejection problems were too deep-seated to be overcome and there was an additional risk of transmitting animal viruses to the human population, which could trigger new diseases.”
Now we have Bird Flu for that.