Organ Transplantation

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–          Living donations of the kidney, part of liver, lobe of lung, part of intestine and portion of pancreas can be made

–          A donor must be healthy in order to give an organ

–          The demand for living organs is increasing

–          For cultural and personal reasons, some are resistant to transplants from cadavers

–          In some countries organs are obtained through coercion or force and sold (organ trafficking)

–          Another strategy to obtain more organs for transplant is using animal-to-human transplants (xenotransplantation)

Gene Therapy

–          Involves replacing a faulty gene with a normal one

–          The HGP (Human Genome Project) identified up to 25000 genes in human DNA making this possible

–          Currently still experimental

–          In the future may be used to treat cancer, genetic disease and viral infection

Reproductive Technologies (AI and IVF)

–          AI (Artificial insemination) – collecting sperm from a male and placing it in the reproductive system of a female. Used in humans from “sperm banks.” Used in cattle.

–          IVF (In vitro fertilization) – sperm and eggs are collected and placed in a test tube or petri dish for fertilization to take place in a controlled environment. The developing embryo is implanted in the females uterus. Many are implanted since the chance of survival is less than 50%

Sex Selection Technologies

–          Choosing the sex of a baby through methods such as sperm separation and staining, and PGD (Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis)

–          PGD is completed by choosing male or female embryos after the IVF process.

What is Cloning? Risks and Benefits

–          PGD’s original use was to detect genetic mutations linked to genetic diseases

Stem Cell research

–          Stem cells (refer to previous note) – group of unspecialized cells present in animals

–          All cells come from stem cells (specialize later)

Embryonic stem cells – from an embryo, can still differentiate

Adult stem cells – from an adults brain, bone marrow, limited ability to become

any type of cell

Cord blood – small amounts can be harvested

– Scientists believe they can treat injury and disease using stem cells


–          Creation of a genetically identical organism that is an exact copy of a gene, cell, tissue, organism

Cloning in Plants

–          Vegetative propaganda – cutting a piece from a plant and allowing it to root to produce another plant

–          Grafting – roots of one plant are attached to shoots of another to produce a more desirable type of plant (eg, a more desirable quality of fruit)

Cloning in Animals

–          Reproductive cloning – transferring a nucleus from a donor body into an egg that has no nucleus. The egg is then transferred into the uterus of the mother

–          Gene cloning – transferring an egg into bacteria so that it reproduces multiple times. Useful in scientific research

–          Therapeutic cloning – same as reproductive cloning, but purpose is to harvest embryonic stem cells from a developing embryo

Transgenic Techniques

–          Transgenic organisms contain genes from other species

–          Used to study the effects of disease and for xenotransplantation

–          Transgenic plants have been developed to have increased resistance to disease or environmental conditions

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Ethical/ Social Issues in Biology," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,
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