How Gene Cloning In Pigs Could Help Humans Fight Disease image

Greater Boston (WGBH, Boston), August 15, 2017
Jim Braude, interviewing I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director)

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For the next great medical advancement, look not to the test tube, but to the farm. Experiments that were done here in Boston could make it possible to one-day transplant organs from pics into people. Scientists from Boston start-up eGenesis modified pig genes to remove viruses that could cause diseases in humans.

A study published in the journal Science last Thursday detailed a new genetic technique that uses a new gene-editing technology called Crispr to cut away the viral DNA from the pigs’ genes.

Scientists then cloned the edited cells and transplanted them into the eggs of a female pig, which then develop into piglets that were genetically identical to the pig, except for the viral DNA.

This breakthrough may help thousands of people now on long waitlists for organ transplants, but genetic engineering as a whole has also raised ethics and safety concerns.

Harvard Law professor and medical ethicist Glenn Cohen and co-director of the Transplant Center at Mass General Hospital Dr. Jay Fishman join Jim to break down the science and debate the benefits and dangers of genetic engineering.

Watch the full interview!

animals bioethics genetics human tissue i. glenn cohen public health