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Xenotransplantation vs. Therapeutic Cloning

“Data from the Centers for Disease Control, it has been estimated that approximately 3000 Americans die every day of diseases that could have been treated with embryonic stem cells derived tissues”(Koh, and Atala 194). What if we could change that? Humans can be cloned using many different methods and techniques but they all lie under the single unit of nuclear transfer. Nuclear transfer has two main branches: Somatic cell nuclear transfer and undifferentiated embryonic cell transfer. These transfer processes both have the process of taking the nucleus out of a cell and inserting it into an unfertilized egg that has had its nucleus removed. The only difference is where they retrieve the nucleus from. In an undifferentiated embryonic cell transfer, the nucleus derives from the human embryo, and in a somatic cell transfer the nucleus originates in any cell other than reproductive ones (Rogers).

Somatic cell nuclear transfer provides a channel for therapeutic cloning. As clearly explained by Britannica Academic, “Therapeutic cloning is intended to use cloned embryos to extract stem cells from them, without ever implanting the embryos in a womb. Therapeutic cloning enables the cultivation of stem cells that are genetically identical to a patient.” This facilitates the creation of tissues and organs for human transplants. Producing organs and tissues with this type of cloning is a passageway to minimizing the jeopardy a patient is placed in when getting a transplant. For example, when an organ from a different host is introduced in a patient’s body it has a vast possibility of being rejected by his/her immune system. This is due to the body not recognizing the foreign element and by attempting to protect itself, sends cells to attack the organ. Another outcome therapeutic cloning satisfies is the relentless worldly organ demand. It is a well-known fact that not enough organs are being donated to hospitals and medical centers to be sufficient for everyone in need of one. Currently, as of this July, there is a waiting list for organs of more than 113,000 people (“Organ Donation Statistics.”). As will be further discussed, this is an issue that therapeutic cloning can effortlessly solve. However, most people still adopt the idea of pig transplants to deal with these affairs. While pig transplants are an alternative approach to worldly organ demand and the danger of transplant rejection, therapeutic cloning is another adequate resource to solve these issues.

Another option to solve ongoing organ demand and reduce the risk of transplant rejections is by using pig organs. According to Ed Yong from The Scientist Magazine®, “Today, the organ shortage is an even bigger problem than it was in the 1980s (…) just 14,000 deceased and living donors give up organs for transplants each year.’ Searching for another source, like animals, may allow us to create more abundance for the ongoing demand. Xenotransplantation is the act of substituting an animal tissue, organ, or fluid in a human body. Why pigs? Pigs have been the predominant animals focused on the subject of cloning due to our extensive history of using their heart valves and insulin to solve other problems like diabetes. Now, scientific analysis has allowed us to observe that pig organs are roughly the same size as human organs. Also, breeding pigs in populous amounts to later remove these organs is fairly uncomplicated (as long as the right materials and tools are provided). However, certain techniques need to be taken to manufacture a perfect functional organ. The pig organ has “a sugar molecule called alpha-1,3-galactose (a-gal), which coats the surface of pig blood vessels but is absent from human tissues.” (Yong). This means the organ is inadequate for the human body because the human immune system will recognize the alien substance as a dangerous unit. Therefore, the genetic composition in pigs needs to be edited for a transplant. A scientist studying this phenomenon, “engineered pigs without the a-1,3-galactosyltransferase gene that produces the a-gal residues. In addition, the pigs carry human cell-membrane proteins such as CD55 and CD46 that prevent the host’s complement system from assembling and attacking the foreign cells.”(Yong). This incompatibility was resolved and it was further mentioned that these animals needed to be placed in a controlled environment. Another difference that has been inclined to change because of discordance is the protein controlling clotting. Solutions are still being calculated so that xenotransplantation should be successful. At least in the short term, pig organs have proven to provide a serviceful purpose. The central organs that have been transplanted are kidneys and livers which seem to operate well for a short period. Xenotransplantation could be a possibility to our many issues on organ demand and organ rejection.

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However, therapeutic cloning is the most efficient way of fixing the worldly organ demand and decreasing the hazard of organ rejection. According to Ed Yong from The Scientist Magazine®, in therapeutic cloning “Such organs, grown from a patient’s cells, should avoid the problems of immune rejection that plague the field of xenotransplantation.” The complications of incompatibility and discordance do not have to be dealt with in therapeutic cloning. The makeup of the organ in this type of cloning has the same significant genetic variables so that rejection is reduced. Likewise, these transplantations have proven to be successful with the many transplantations already done with them. For example, “In 1999, Anthony Atala of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine grew bladders using artificial scaffolds and transplanted them into seven children with spina bifida. By 2006, all the children had gained better urinary control.” (Yong). Atala improved the lives of these children because he was able to provide organs quickly. In therapeutic cloning, organs can be produced fairly quickly and in abundance. In the future, if this type of transplantation is taken into consideration, it would be produced in large amounts being able to fulfill the demand and being done efficiently, it would save many lives. However, pig transplantations are less costly and if there is something abnormal concerning cells in an organ needing to be cloned, it cannot be cloned. Chiefly, therapeutic cloning displays a competent way to solve organ demand and rejection obstacles.

Even though therapeutic cloning can be a long-term solution to organ demand and risk of rejection, pig organ transplants can be an added solution. Xenotransplantation also poses itself to be an expensive area of research. Modifying pigs and designing them to perfectly simulate human organs is difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Having to care for the pigs and perform multiple experiments is the reason therapeutic cloning is preferred. In addition, it does not present itself as a promising field due to its failure to inhabit a human’s body inoffensively for a long time while therapeutic cloning has allowed that to occur. The risk of researching an expensive field without knowing if the outcome is even possible is a chance no one has yet tackled. Therapeutic cloning likewise proves to be expensive but in the remote future, promising. Another problem with xenotransplantation as mentioned by Yong from The Scientist Magazine®, “liver transplants present a much trickier problem. “The liver makes so many proteins and hormones, and many of them that work in the pig probably won’t work in humans.” Not all organs in pigs will be available for human transplantation, although therapeutic cloning can recreate any organ. Moreover, diseases can be passed on from pigs to humans through xenotransplantation. If not in a controlled environment or cared for, diseases in pigs can be overlooked by scientists when executing a transplant. Therefore, eliminating any possibility of the patient’s recuperation process. These infections are called zoonotic and unknown zoonotic infections. It is known that “according to Taylor et al. (1), who in 2001 cataloged 1,415 known human pathogens, 62% were of zoonotic origin.” (Kruse et al.). This means that diseases or viruses that humans have obtained are mainly from animals. Throughout history, humans have been seen having diseases dating to zoonotic origin. For example, the Bubonic Plague was a disease passed from rats to humans by fleas. To clarify, if pigs attained viruses, they could be passed on to humans and cause immense problems. Especially, when breeding a large number of pigs, and performing transplants with all of them living in the same environment is dangerous. This is due to something called epizootic. This is when an outbreak occurs and all of the animals acquire the disease. This can be dangerous because if all of the pigs obtained the virus or disease, all of the people receiving the transplants would be affected. Also, animals that live so tightly together as these pigs would, are the perfect environment for these diseases to outset. Even though there is still a lot of research that needs to be completed before performing pig transplants, when perfected, they can serve as a temporary solution for the vast organ demand and rejection issues.

In conclusion, although pig transplants are another possible choice to the worldly organ demand and risk of rejection, therapeutic cloning is another worthwhile choice to settle these issues. Therapeutic cloning, showing a more profitable and feasible option for solving these issues, outweighs the probability of xenotransplantation being used. Temporarily, pig transplantations can be adopted to treat patients while waiting for a donor or a cloned organ. Both options were to be considered in an attempt to solve the organ demand and risk of rejection many people undergo as patients. Now, the problem is not having enough donors but in a while, the controversial debate between xenotransplantation and therapeutic cloning will have to be settled. We are not always given a second chance to live our lives, but therapeutic cloning can give many that opportunity. 

#heathcare #medical #medicalcare #pharmaceuticals #healthcareprofessional #nurses #healthprofessionals

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