A Visit To The Past: Xenotransplants, Good Or Bad?

When I first read this post on xenotransplants, I thought it sounded somewhat weird, but really interesting. But before I investigate the subject, I want to get some facts straight:

Xenotransplanting–Transplanting cells or organs from one species into another…


Cells from pigs are being transplanted into humans to heal things such as diabetes (or eliminate the need for insulin-producing cells or rather giving them the cells they need)

The problem is that pig cells carry a marker that human immune systems target to kill

There is danger of pig viruses passing on to humans (such as a wasting disease found in piglets)

The Problems

Obviously, huge problem is screening for the perfect cells to implant in humans. You don’t want to get a disease from a pig that will be passed on through you family. The risk is too high for scientists and for many governments (including the US, I believe).

Personally, I wouldn’t want some part of a pig put into my body. But if it would save your life, I don’t know what I would do. The fact of the matter lies in the problem of viruses.

Biblical Thoughts

Messing with the building block of life can lead to scary things. Cloning is one example of messing with DNA. We can find out if a baby is going to have defects before it’s born–and that can lead to a society that kills “worthless” humans. These things are amazing scientific discoveries gone bad.

But they can be used for good (knowledge of DNA) such as finding criminals or terrorists.

When is comes down to something that involves viruses passing from one species to another, I think of this verse:

“Do you not know you body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with you body.”
(found in 1 Corinthians…NIV)

I would fear bad uses of this “healing” (I don’t know what exactly) and would say that we shouldn’t put anything into our body that would harm us, whether it is drugs or DNA or whatever. We are God’s temple and we must keep his temple holy.

We haven’t yet see the long term effects of these implanted DNA, which will split and form new identical cells (I don’t know the technical term). So what would happen in the long run? (Thanks to mom for bringing this point up)

Of course, a lot of these healing cures cure people by taking innocent life. Life for life is wrong. Period. I didn’t see that happening in Xenotransplanting, but I could have missed that point.

(This is an old post by the way)

2 responses to “A Visit To The Past: Xenotransplants, Good Or Bad?”

  1. David Ketter says:

    Hey Tim, this reminds me of an article written by a friend of mine a few months back. It can be found at the following

    You’ll have to login first and then scroll down to the article “Unknown Animal” by Alexa Schratz.


  2. Catez says:

    Hi Tim,
    Interesting to revisit this. Just a note on cloning – cloning is used regularly in many helpful ways. I have cloned pieces of DNA in bacteria to get them to produce a protein. Then I harvest the protein and use it to study how it works. So when we talk about cloning we need to specify what it is that is being cloned. I think what you are referring to in your post is cloning of humans or human embryos – which is unethical. But working with DNA is not all bad – in fact much of it is good. We just don’t hear so much about the good. DNA technology has helped to pinpoint the causes of some diseaes which helps in working on drug development for cures or treatments. DNA technology is also used in finding out what viruses are made of and the development of vaccines.
    Regarding my post on xenotransplants – yes, I did raise the issue of virus transmission. It is an important concern. Which is why I advise people that if they eat pork it should be very well cooked!
    We put DNA into our bodies all the time – we eat DNA in fruit, and vegetables for example. We host billions of non-harmful bacteria in our intestines which all have their own DNA. So it isn’t about putting DNA into our body – but which DNA we put it, if you see what I mean.
    I recall answering your last point previously (elephant memory, I know), the cells are regulated by density dependence – they don’t just keep dividing and dividing, but have contact inhibition. What has been found in preliminary trials is that transplanting the insulin-producing cells works – but because it is considered too risky as far as virus transmission is concerned we don’t know how long it lasts for. A problem with any kind of transplant is that the cells or organs that were transplanted may not always last.
    I agree that the virus risk is too great right now on the xenotransplants.

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