Designer pigs could save thousands of lives in China, which lacks an ‘organ-donation culture’


Where other people see bacon, biologist Luhan Yang sees lifesaving organs — hundreds and thousands of them…[Yang] intends to use CRISPR to accomplish what the world’s largest drug companies failed to despite investing billions of dollars: create “designer pigs” whose organs can be transplanted into people.

Her motivation in cofounding eGenesis is not only scientific but also cultural. China has long been shunned by the global community of transplant surgeons because it used prisoners as donors, which is regarded as unethical because prisoners can be coerced. And with China’s tradition that people must be buried or cremated intact, Yang said, “there is no organ-donation culture.”

Some scholars argue that it is morally wrong to value human life more than animals’, but “so many people are eating pork every day,” Yang said. As for “playing God” — the argument that it is unethical to change a pig in the way that genome-editing does — she retorts that “the highest moral standard is human life. I think it’s a personal choice whether you use a pig organ or die. But you shouldn’t prevent other people from using it.”

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: She’s hellbent on solving the organ shortage with ‘designer pigs.’ Just don’t keep her waiting

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia