Xenotransplantation and Type 1 Diabetes: the Socio-Economic Effects

Topics: Immune system, Organ transplant, Insulin Pages: 6 (2226 words) Published: July 13, 2013
Biology Internal: Achievement Standard 3.2
“Integrate biological knowledge to develop an informed response to a socio-scientific issue” “Xenotransplantation: A Possible Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes” What Is Diabetes?
Type-one diabetes is a severe disease that currently affects around 34.7million people worldwide. It is an auto-immune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas, these cells are the ones who produce the hormone; insulin. Insulin controls the special carrier proteins on a cells membrane and controls the amount of glucose that passes into the cell; this is responsible for your blood sugar level. Type-one diabetes is “characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Because of the absence of these cells in type-one diabetic patients hyperglycaemia or high blood sugar levels are caused. Hyperglycaemia and “yo-yoing” blood sugar levels cause problems with eye-sight, kidney disease, and damage to the nervous system and heart problems. There is currently no cure or treatment for diabetes, only management of insulin and blood sugar levels through healthy diet and daily insulin injections.

What Is Xenotransplantation?
Xenotransplantation is defined as “the transplantation, implantation or infusion into a human recipient of either (a) live cells, tissues, or organs from a non-human animal source or (b) human body fluids, cells, tissues, or organs that have had ex vivo contacts with live non-human animal cells, tissues, or organs” for instance the transfer of pig islet cells into a human patient. Xenotransplantation was first tried in the early 1900’s but for due to rejection was discarded. It then re-emerged in the 1960’s when advances in immunology enlightened scientists to why the original transplants were rejected. Xenotransplantation has become considered as a better and more sustainable option for the treatment of organ failure and life-threatening diseases as the critical shortage of donated organs for allotransplantation continues to plague the medical sector. Last year only one third of people on the waiting list received organ transplantations. This year there are currently nearly 120,000 people awaiting organ transplants in the United States Of America alone, including 1,760 pediatric patients. Xenotransplantation carries many biological risks; because the transplantation is foreign matter to the body the immune system will reject the transplant. There are two types of rejection associated with xenotransplantation; hyperacute rejection and acute rejection. Hyperacute rejection occurs within hours of the transplantation taking place and occurs mostly in transplants with animals that are incongruent to humans/ human DNA, for example pigs. This is caused by a sugary enzyme which is present on the surface of the animal’s organs; this causes clotting and occurs within 20 minutes of the operation. Recently genetic engineering has allowed scientists to “knock out” the gene that causes the enzyme and prevent hyperacute rejection. Acute rejection of transplants occurs with transplants from animals that are congruent with humans, for example; monkeys. Acute rejection can be managed with immunosuppressant drugs. Though the use of pigs’ heart valves has become common practice in the medical world xenotransplantation is still in its early stages and has yet to become commercialised. Most transplants between animals and humans are still in the research and clinical trial stages, but xenotransplantation seems to be a promising and sustainable alternative to allotransplantation, and promising cure for organ failure and fatal diseases.

Pig Islet Cell Xenotransplantation Procedure Developed By The LCT Company? The New Zealand based Living Cell Technologies (LCT) Company has developed a porcine tissue procedure, which removes islet cells from pigs, encapsulates them in an algae based coating...
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