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History of Farshid Jallalund: What happens when a human is made of pig tissue?

History of Farshid Jallalund: What happens when a human is made of pig tissue?

That day, I sat in a brand new car and thought I was done with a spaceship. Touch screens, cameras and sensors. Automatic Collision Prevention Brake System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Road Sign Assist. The car had its own app where you could remotely control a lot of functions. I thought what in the name of peace. I hardly need to drive myself anymore.

In Phoenix, Arizona, Waymo has self-driving taxis in operation since last year — a real car. Even tech giant Apple got into the game. Expect the soon-to-be iCar that can only be charged via three plug-in adapters connected to Apple’s proprietary power lines.

Business people draw one Future vision Where we jump in and out of the ultra-secure self-driving machines that travel through the city.

But the great technological progress It always has a looping effect on the water: changes occur not only in the direct field of technology, but in the second, third and fourth stages. And some believe we need to prepare for safer car traffic with negative consequences.

employment enormous The percentage of organ donations comes from traffic accidents. Writer Lisa Kirsibom has in several Latest discussion He wrote that there are ways to increase the number of transplants, for example by reviewing care procedures. But it may be wise to prepare for the loss of donors as traffic becomes safer.

A few weeks ago, surgeons in New York were able to connect a kidney from a genetically modified pig to the body of a brain-dead patient.

Perhaps biomedical advances could offer a solution. A few weeks ago, surgeons in New York succeeded college hook up From a genetically modified pig to the carcass of a brain-dead patient to assess whether the organ can be tolerated, as well as the ability to produce urine. The experiment proved successful: during the three days that it lasted, everything went as it should.

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Rocket character in the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy” – a genetic experiment in the frontier regions of man and animals.

Photo: Marvel Studios / Kobal / Rex

This is a great achievement and a breakthrough – because the human body usually rejects the organs of pigs immediately. Revivicor has successfully removed a sugar molecule that our immune system reacts to from the surface of pig cells with relatively simple genetic modifications. The company, and others, are currently making more pig organs equal to our country, among other things by inserting human genes into the pig genome, a process called in scientific parlance the humanization of animals.

Here I remember the ship of Theseus – you know the old paradox of the ship that the damaged panels were replaced one by one, until all the original panels were replaced with new ones. Is it still the same ship, or a new ship, is the old question.

He is a patient person Much of the pig tissue is still human, or something else? The kidney may not be impressive, but if we start transplanting nerve tissue from humanized pigs then? Nervous tissue in addition to the heart, kidneys and liver? When do human-compatible pigs become humans, when do humans with pig organs become pigs? I imagine George Orwell laughed at evolution.

If species boundaries begin to drastically fade, it presents us with ethical considerations

To me, biologically speaking the human being is a bag of cooperating cells, the question of whether my kidneys contain pig DNA or human DNA is not very important. But if species boundaries begin to fade more drastically, it presents us with ethical considerations that we have so far been unable to avoid. Not least in terms of law, we may need to define or more accurately resolve the line between humans and other animals. It can be a more confusing task than many might think.

From a broader perspective, our newfound power over genetics is even more remarkable. Until recently, the genetic material we had access to as a species was completely restricted to sexual reproduction – we could only exchange genes with other people when we had children. But using modern gene technology, we can transfer genes from bacteria, fungi, insects, birds and pigs into our DNA – and vice versa. What will happen to all possible hybrids? How will they be classified?

Self-driving cars will likely be considered pretty trivial in the future with living sphinxes.

Farshid Jalalvand is a molecular microbiologist, researcher and cultural writer based in Malmö. It will be published in the spring of 2022 with his first book “Apan & Filosofen” on evolution and philosophy. He is a new columnist for Lördagsmagasinet.

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