May 27, 2024

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Genetically Edited Pig Kidneys Function Well After Transplantation to Humans

Genetically Edited Pig Kidneys Function Well After Transplantation to Humans



 

Genetically Edited Pig Kidneys Function Well After Transplantation to Humans

Scientists have demonstrated that genetically edited pig kidneys, when transplanted into the human body, can continue functioning for at least a week with no signs of rejection.

This groundbreaking case study holds promise for reducing organ waiting lists and associated mortality rates.

Organ transplantation remains the sole option in cases of advanced diseases, but finding suitable donors remains a challenge.

 

Genetically Edited Pig Kidneys Function Well After Transplantation to Humans

 

 

 

A technique known as “xenotransplantation” aims to expand the pool of donors beyond human donors.

Pig organs, due to their similar size, are considered prime candidates. To mitigate the risk of rejection, these organs undergo genetic editing, eliminating certain pig genes while introducing some human genes.

 

Recent successes have been achieved. Last year, the first pig-to-human heart transplant was conducted on a living patient, who survived for two months before succumbing to heart failure.

Other research groups implanted pig kidneys and hearts into patients declared brain-dead. In a three-day experiment, these organs functioned normally without signs of rejection, with patients sustained by life-support systems, having volunteered their bodies for the experiment.

 

A recent study by scientists at the University of Alabama extended the experiment to a full week.

The patient, a man in his 50s with a history of chronic kidney disease, exhausted all other options and was declared brain-dead. He received a pig kidney modified with 10 genetic alterations – four of which were gene knockouts to prevent potential rejection responses and six human genes to prevent clotting.

 

Over the course of seven days, biomarkers indicated excellent kidney function.

The transplanted kidneys successfully excreted urine, improved creatinine clearance rates in the blood (a key measure of kidney function), and showed no signs of micro blood clot formation.

 

While much work remains before such procedures can be routinely performed clinically, this marks a crucial step towards potentially reducing waiting lists and premature deaths among candidates.

 

Dr. Roger Lord, Senior Lecturer in Medical Science at the Australian Catholic University, stated, “Historically, xenotransplantation has largely failed due to post-operative hyperacute rejection, a process even immune suppression couldn’t control. This case study provides vital preliminary evidence that these genetically modified kidneys can function normally after xenotransplantation, bringing hope to those awaiting kidney transplants.”

 

This research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery.

 

 

 

 

 

Genetically Edited Pig Kidneys Function Well After Transplantation to Humans

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