Washington: The US medical team yesterday announced that it had performed the first known kidney transplant from a pig to a human in the body of a brain-dead recipient. The procedure described in the scientific paper was performed shortly after a successful transplant of a pig heart into a human earlier this month. Advances in the field of so-called xenotransplantation, or xenotransplantation, are expected to one day solve the chronic shortage of organ donation.
“Today’s results are remarkable for humankind and can advance xenotransplantation into the clinical arena,” said Selwyn Vickers, Dean of the Heersink School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The first pig kidney was transplanted into a human by a team at NYU Langone on September 25, 2021, involving a brain-dead patient on a ventilator whose family granted permission for a proof-of-concept experiment.
The procedure required attaching the kidney to a blood vessel at the top of one leg of the patient so that scientists could observe the kidney and take a biopsy sample. The same team conducted another similar experiment on November 22nd. The newly announced surgery was performed on September 30, 2021. Although an organ donor, his organs were considered inappropriate.
“The transplanted kidney filtered blood, produced urine, and, importantly, was not immediately rejected,” the UAB said in a statement. The kidney remained alive 77 hours later until the study was completed, and the results were published in the peer-reviewed “American Journal of Transplantation.” In addition, the kidneys were fully connected within the body, so the UAB team states that their procedure is a step closer to clinical reality. They will soon move to human clinical trials and then seek regulatory approval.
Donor pigs underwent 10 key genetic modifications to make their organs suitable for human transplantation. All four known pig-to-human donor pigs came from a herd of Revivicor, a subsidiary of the biotechnology company United Therapeutics Corporation. Previous studies have shown that such pig transplants are suitable for non-human primates. According to official US data, about 107,000 Americans are waiting for their organs, 90,000 of whom need kidneys. Seventeen Americans die daily while waiting for their organs.
Early xenograft studies focused on collecting organs from primates. For example, the baboon’s heart was transplanted to a newborn baby known as “Baby Fae” in 1984, but she survived only 20 days. Today, pig heart valves are widely used in humans, and pig skin is transplanted to human burn victims. Pigs are ideal donors due to their organ size, rapid growth, large numbers of litters, and the fact that they are already bred as a food source. – AFP
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