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Xenotransplantation

The Risks Involved

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Some of the risks involved in xenotransplantation sometimes seem impossible to overcome. Pig DNA contains a galatose sugar as part of their genetic make-up. When genes containing galactose are introduced in a human body, the DNA is recognised as a virus or bacteria. The human immune system will attack the organ, destroying it. This is known as organ rejection. A temporary solution to this problem has been suggested. Human antibodies can be bound to the sugar of the pig's DNA to minimize the effect, but not the eventual outcome. Without this solution the human body would reject the pig organ in no longer than five minutes.



Another problem which arises in xenotransplantation is the fact that pigs age 39 times faster than humans. It is undetermined whether or not this would still occur with a pig organ functioning inside a human body.



One other disadvantage to the procedure of xenotransplantation is the spread of viruses. There is the possibility that animal viruses can be transmitted through the donated organs from the animals. A solution to this problem has been proposed. A line of pigs free from viruses and diseases has been bred, so it will be possible to transplant their organs without the risk of virus transfer.