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Old 07-02-2008, 08:39 AM
Zerc Zerc is offline
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Human, Pigs and Apes Evolution

n another board I frequent there is a bit of a discussion about evolution and the statement was made that pigs are similar to us which is why pig heart valves are being used in humans. I also remember pigs being used in research for wound treatments. If we are more closely related to apes than pigs why would pigs be a better choice? I could understand for research pigs may be cheaper but surely if you want to transplant heart valves you would go for the closer match which I would assume would be something like a chimapanzee rather than a pig. Could somebody clear this up for me please?
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:54 AM
Lambo Lambo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerc
n another board I frequent there is a bit of a discussion about evolution and the statement was made that pigs are similar to us which is why pig heart valves are being used in humans. I also remember pigs being used in research for wound treatments. If we are more closely related to apes than pigs why would pigs be a better choice? I could understand for research pigs may be cheaper but surely if you want to transplant heart valves you would go for the closer match which I would assume would be something like a chimapanzee rather than a pig. Could somebody clear this up for me please?
My educated guess is that we've domesticated the pig, and it's relatively trivial to breed them as needed. There aren't all that many apes, they would have to be caught, and the astronomical cost would place the procedure out of the reach of any but the wealthiest patients. Also, pig valves seems to work just fine.
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:00 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is online now
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I suspect it's the logistics of it, and other baggage. It's easy to get pig parts -- there are plenty of them, they're dom,esticated, and medically well-documented, and, aside from PETA, nobody much cares if you kill them or use them for medical experimentation. Apes are much more rare, protected, less well-quantified medically, and it bothers people to use them for medical experimentation.



Nevertheless, when they implanted an animal's heart in a human, they used a baboon's heart, rather than a pig. And that got them a LOT of flak:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag...=&pagewanted=2
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:07 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
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Some pig breeds have a similar body mass to people, so organ structures (like heart valves) and blood volume are similar. They also have a similar fat/muscle/bone ratio, so their bodies react to traumatic events in a similar way. And they can be bred easily to produce specific characteristics.

Si
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Old 07-02-2008, 10:44 AM
slaphead slaphead is offline
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Chimps are similar enough to humans to have pretty much the same diseases, and there might be more risk of some novel disease jumping from primates to people than from pigs to people. But that's speculation on my part. I suspect the size and cost reasons are more important.
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