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Help with Xenotransplantation please.

Genetics as it applies to evolution, molecular biology, and medical aspects.

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Help with Xenotransplantation please.

Postby 000Anna000 » Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:26 pm

Hi. I need help on a research project about Xenotransplantation. I'm having trouble finding the process on the internet.

I understand pig organs and human organs have a similar size, so I'm focusing my project on pig-xenotransplantations in particular.

I am unsure of the process, but here's what I gathered so far;

1. The pigs have to be genetically modified so the human immune system does not reject and destroy the pigs foreign DNA.

2. To genetically modify a pig, a DNA construct (artificially made string of nucleotides, which have genetic information) and a bacterial plasmid are added into a test tube.

3. I have no idea how they create modified cells or whatever...

4. The modified cells are grown in a culture?

5. Cells are taken from the grown cell culture and put into an embryonic pig cell inside a womb?

6. The pig develops with the modified genes.

7. Once the pig has fully grown, organs can be harvested.

That's all I got. Thankyou for any help. I'm greatly confused. :[
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Postby biohazard » Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:17 pm

Well, something along those lines. You must either create a transgenic enbryo by inserting gene(s) into the cromosome, or if possible, simply knock out a certain gene such as some of the MHC genes that dictate tissue antigenicity.

The construct that is transfered into the pig genome can be multiplied in a bacterial plasmid. Afaik, the modified cells themselves are rarely grown in a culture for somatic cell transfer (which is, in effect, cloning). The standard method, thus, is to edit the genome of the egg cell before fertilisation. Also the plasmid/gene construct is usually propagated in a cell culture and before being inserted into the pig oocyte.

The transgenic pig embryo is then planted into the womb of a pig, where it grows and develops into a piggy, which then develops the traits that were modified. A full-grown pig can then be used to produce other transgenic pigs or the organs can be removed for human use.

Oh, and by the way, the human immune system does not reject organ transplants because of the foreign DNA, but instead it recognizes foreign structures on the cell surface - which are mostly proteins or glycoproteins.
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