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From a J. Neil Schulman article on Organ Cloning:

Cannibalizing organs from other people also entails the risk of rejection because of incompatibilities, not only for tissue-typing but also for gross anatomical mismatches. Cloning organs [...] has the potential of taking a human being's own genetic material and growing perfect replacement organs which are fully compatible with their genetic makeup.

The reason for using a person's own DNA, is obviously to avoid an allergic reaction to the antigen markers on a strange organ. But in the blood typing system, there exist types which don't have any trouble-making antigens (such as type O-negative, called a "Universal Donor").

Would it be possible to grow an analogous "universal" internal organ, which didn't have any antigens indicating it was a foreign body? (By editing a DNA sample to remove certain expressed proteins, then growing it into an organ.)

I realize this is technically a science-fiction question :) But - A: it may not be in the near future, and B: I can rephrase it to remove the SF component:

In the blood-typing system, the AB antigens don't appear necessary for proper functioning of red blood cells - are the antigens on a person's own cells, actually needed for any essential functions, or could they be removed, without affecting that person's health?

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1 Answer 1

I'll contradict the answer posted here (ages ago) and say no, it isn't possible. Growing an organ wthout MHC proteins might be achievable, but it would be rejected for not having MHC1. NK cells instruct all cells without MHC1 to perform apoptosis. In this case, MHC1 antigens are required on cells for proper self-identification.

Keeping MHC1-less cells alive could be achieved by

  • equipping them with whatever is keeping erythrocytes and thrombocytes (also lacking MHC1) from being destroyed on sight. (A good idea, but see next paragraph)
  • disabling their apoptosis mechanism (Cells with disabled apoptosis mechanisms are commonly referred to as cancer, so we might want to not do this.)

MHC1 also has a function; it presents "peptide shreddings" from proteosomes to T cells; this way T cells can check if the cell contains internal foreign proteins (sign of a virus infection or cancerous transformation). Thus, removing MHC from the cells would make them very liable to become nearly unstoppable virus factories or tumor cells.

(On a side note, while everyone technically can receive 0 Rh negative blood, group-identical blood is used always, except in rare emergency cases. A and B antigens here, as far as I know, do not have function.)

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