Do animals hold the key to the global organ shortage?
Karen Weintraub in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Apr 3, 2019
| The Guardian – Scientist Wenning Qin holds up a Petri dish, carefully sloshes around the pink liquid inside, and slides it under a microscope.
Some identical tiny slashes come into focus. These cells, she explains, are derived from the ear of a pig. And they may contain the future of animal to human organ transplantation.
Researchers in South Korea are expected to transplant pig corneas into humans within a year.
A handful of groups across the US are also working toward pig organ clinical trials in the next few years, including a group at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston that is starting a six-person clinical trial using “blankets” of pig skin to temporarily protect the skin of burn victims.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) medical school, researchers are planning to transplant pig kidneys into adults and hearts into struggling newborns. Woman Finds Kidney Donor By Advertising On Billboards
And in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at a startup called eGenesis, scientists like Qin, the company’s director of genome engineering, are gene editing pig cells in preparation. Their goal – shared by a handful of other biotech companies in the US and Europe working on genetic engineering – is to create pigs whose organs can be safely transplanted into people.
“I think this is a magical point in the field of [animal transplants],” says William Westlin, eGenesis’ executive vice-president for research and development. “It’s no longer a question of if. It’s just a question of when.”
Scientists have long pursued the idea of keeping people alive by using parts from animals – a process referred to as xenotransplantation. But it was long believed to be impossible … Read more.
The REAL Reason For The “Global Organ Shortage”
With rare exceptions, we’re all born with the exact number of organs we’ll need for life. So why is there a “global shortage” of human body parts?
What we aren’t eating is killing us, global study finds
By Sandee LaMotte, Apr 3, 2019
CNN – Which risk factor is responsible for more deaths around the world than any other? Not smoking. Not even high blood pressure. It’s a poor diet.
“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure,” said Ashkan Afshin, an assistant professor at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
And it’s not just that people are choosing unhealthy options such as red meat and sugary sodas. Just as critical, said Afshin, the lead author of a 27-year global diet analysis published Wednesday in the journal the Lancet, is the lack of healthy foods in our diets, along with high levels of salt.
“While traditionally all the conversation about healthy diet has been focused on lowering the intake of unhealthy food, in this study, we have shown that, at the population level, a low intake of healthy foods is the more important factor, rather than the high intake of unhealthy foods,” he said.
One in five deaths globally — that’s about 11 million people — in 2017 occurred because of too much sodium and a lack of whole grains, fruit and nuts and seeds, the study found, rather than from diets packed with trans fats, sugar-sweetened drinks and high levels of red and processed meats.
The large study size means these findings are relevant to everyone, no matter where they live, said Andrew Reynolds, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand, who was not involved in the study.
“The findings of the paper will inform policy decisions that shape what food is available in Western countries, how it is marketed and potentially what it costs in the coming years,” Reynolds said. Read more.
PREVIOUSLY ON HEADLINE HEALTH: