Breakthrough In Organ Transplantation

Grind for September 4th, 2018
“What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all eternity.”

– Leo Buscaglia

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk

The Headline

Why dairy is such a big deal in NAFTA negotiations

The Grind

Dairy trade has become a central grievance between the US and Canada as representatives from both nations strives to renegotiate the specifics of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

US dairy exports to Canada in 2017, which totaled more than $630 million, represent a $418 million trade surplus in the sector – and this isn’t a good thing for American farmers.

The Details

Canada’s dairy market is governed by a strict supply management system under which the federal government sets prices and imposes quotas on domestic producers to keep supplies under control. Any imports that exceed the government’s limits are subject to tariffs of more than 200%.

Critics of the system – including President Trump – believe it distorts products and hinders US exports.

Canadian farmers, who hold substantial political sway, insist the system keeps prices stable and protects Canada from the dairy glut now plaguing other nations.

Canadian trade expert Jon Johnson worries that abandoning the current system would wipe out the entire industry. “The state of Wisconsin could easily supply all of Canada’s [dairy] needs.”

Last Friday, as the US and Canada concluded NAFTA talks without reaching an agreement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed not to eliminate the supply management system. “We know the Americans would love for us to eliminate supply management. We will not do that. We will not give in.”

Meanwhile, the US dairy industry is trying to find foreign buyers as US consumption drops and more efficient production methods create an oversupply.

One Step Closer

The Headline

Alabama researchers test pig organs for human transplant

The Grind

The United States is in dire need of more organs. Right now, there are more than 114,000 Americans waiting for an organ transplant.

By the end of the day, 20 will have died.

A new patient is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. And while more than 90% of Americans support the idea of organ donation, less than 60% sign up to be donors.

On top of that, only 3 out of 1,000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation. The good news is that a person who dies with healthy organs can potentially save up to 8 lives.

The Details

A team of researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham is working on a series of tests that will put us one step closer to successful xenotransplantation – a term that refers to the process of replacing a failing human organ with an organ from another species.

In this case, we’re talking about pigs.

The two main issues with organ donation are rejection (from the recipient) and the transfer of a virus or infection (from the donor). To ensure organs from pig donors don’t come with any diseases, the team developed a series of assays (tests) able to detect the presence and quantity of 30 infectious agents that could potentially move from a pig to a person.

After testing the procedures on 9 sows and 22 piglets, the team determined they were “highly sensitive.”

“The assays hold promise as part of the screening program to identify suitable donor animals, validate and release transplantable organs for research purposes, and monitor transplant recipients,” says lead researcher Mark Prichard.

Now that we have a reliable way to test animal organs for diseases, we can start addressing some of the other challenges along the path towards successful xenotransplantation.

Did you know… In Korea, a child’s first birthday is the most important. In one part of the celebration, several items are placed on a table. The one that the baby picks up first is said to predict their future.