What are your views on the process of xenoplantation? Is xenoplantation taking over evolution? How modern science and technology are messing up with the concept of evolution? Are they trying to outwit evolution? Do you even consider this ethical?
Researchers believe that humans evolved from monkeys or chimpanzees; no one knows what? With the advent of biotech to the forefront, biomedical are trying to transplant a pig’s heart or a monkey’s kidney into a human. In short, if successful, the whole concept of evolution shall be flawed or may hold no relevance. Do you even think about the repercussions it can have on humans or other organisms? Humans may turn into animals or completely different creatures, as we often encounter in fictional movies or stories.
Let us know about xenoplantation– the whole basis of this revolutionary idea.
What is Xenotransplantation?
It is the process that involves the transplantation, implantation, or infusion of live cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source into a human recipient is referred to as xenotransplantation. It also includes any operation that involves ex vivo contact of human bodily fluids, cell tissues, or organs with living human-animal cells, tissues, or organs.
Mythological traces of the process
A study of Greek mythology and religious texts, particularly from the Hindu religion, reveals that people have been fascinated by the idea of combining physical attributes from different animal species for hundreds of years.
Need for such transplants
The demand for clinical transplantation of human cells, tissues, and organs outstrips availability. The scarcity of human allografts and current scientific and biotechnological advancements have inspired a resurgence in developing experimental therapeutics that utilize xenotransplantation products in human recipients.
Due to their limited capacity to function on ice, lungs and hearts are rarely used before they die. If scientists can get our bodies to accept pig organs, modern technology believes they can fill that hole and produce a more accessible and prolific supply of transplantable organs.
Pigs are genetically different from humans, but their organs are similar in size, and they are easy to breed, making them a good candidate for Xenotransplantation. The use of pig valves in heart transplants has been proven beneficial.
The goal is that the organs can be extracted and transplanted without being rejected by human bodies. This is progressing in Xenotransplantation, or the transplantation of nonhuman organs or cells into a human body, which is still in its early stages. The first stage was to make it possible to transplant animals from one species to another. It may sound like science fiction, but it works.
Why the pig as a Donor
Humans and pigs have certain characteristics in common. Various anatomic and physiologic features, including organ placement (and frequently size and function), skin resemblances, and disease progression, are among them.
In many aspects, it resembles a human body, including fat distribution, hair cover, and the capacity to attract insects. Pigs have been utilized in medical research for over 30 years for this reason, and are considered a translational research model. This indicates that if something works in a pig, it is more likely to function in a human.
Many of these physical qualities are the consequence of convergent evolution, or the selection of similar characteristics by a common environment, rather than close ancestry.
We are more closely related to mice than to pigs when we compare the entire DNA sequences of different mammals. We share a common ancestor with pigs about 80 million years ago, but rodents shared one with us 70 million years ago.
A new study has discovered a possible evolutionary relationship between pigs and monkeys that were previously unknown. Geneticists are examining every component of the human genome, including SINES, which was previously disregarded.
Present Status of Xenoplantation
The notion of Xenotransplantation (cross-species transplantation) is not new, and various clinical trials have been conducted over the past 300 years or more.
A 57-year-old man with terminal heart failure became the first person to receive a heart transplant from a genetically engineered pig. The patient also appeared to be doing well.
It isn’t simply pig hearts that are causing a stir. On the pig kidney transplant front, there has also been some movement.
Because the human immune system is designed to reject foreign organs, cross-species transplants have shown to be impossible to sustain indefinitely.
Natural antibodies directed against the galactose epitope, or the portion of the pig cell that decides whether antibodies may bind or not, stimulate the immune response.
Challenges with Xenotransplantation
The baboon who survived the heart transplant was on a long course of immunosuppressive medicines and died when the drugs were stopped. However, scientists remain optimistic about the next experiment, replacing a baboon’s heart with a pig’s heart. The challenge is identifying techniques to target the genes that humans reject and then alter them.
The immunological and pathophysiological issues connected with pig xenotransplantation are severe. They are likely because the pig and human species have been separated on the evolutionary scale for 80 million years.
The use of animal organs in the human body is a long-standing practice that has included everything from “zest for life” chimp testicle implants to replacement kidneys and hearts derived from our primate ancestors. The latter frequently resulted in mortality within a short period. On the other hand, our immune system interprets the transplanted organ as infection and assaults it.
Since their organs are approximately the right size and we’ve been raising them for a long time, pigs are the emphasis these days.
However, the issue of hyperacute rejection is the same: maintaining organs pink rather than black. You can’t just go to the farm and pick a pig to transplant its organs. Significant improvements in genetic engineering were required to make pigs’ organs more compatible with our immune systems.
Side-effects of the process
Aside from the organs being rejected by the body, there is concern about cross-species infection, such as swine flu, because humans lack protection from viruses that originate in animals. Because patients would be on immunosuppressants to prevent transplant rejection, these infections would be more deadly.
Moral Ground restriction
There’s also some moral ambiguity to navigate. This heart transplant is still contentious, and there are concerns about the patient’s informed permission and animal welfare. Animal rights organizations are opposed to rearing animals to harvest their organs, as one might imagine.
It’s not only about the pig’s heart transplant which is a matter of concern. There have been a lot of ideas floating even in the past for blood xenotransfusion, skin xenoplantation, corneal xenoplantation, blood vessel anastomosis, cell xenotransplantation, and a lot more going on.
If it is continued at a similar pace, the whole idea revolving around evolution making humans the most developed being shall be of no use. We are uncertain if even after this transplantation from different species will allow a man to be considered a human. The worst nightmare is that man may be xenoplanned into an outrageous creature we often get to see in fiction.
Till the time the whole process is in the lab, don’t worry if you snort when you laugh or eat too much at dinner—you’re still human.