Science & Technology

A groundbreaking new test takes pig-to-human kidney transplants one step closer

Scientists temporarily attached the pig’s kidneys to the human body and observed it begin to function. This is a small step in the decades-long quest to use animal organs for life-saving transplants.

Pigs are the focus of the latest research to deal with organ deficiencies, but some of the hurdles are that the sugar in pig cells, which is foreign to the human body, immediately causes organ rejection. The kidneys in this experiment were from a gene-editing animal designed to eliminate its sugar and avoid attacking the immune system.

The surgeon attached the porcine kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of the deceased recipient and allowed them to be observed for two days. The kidneys served their original purpose of filtering waste products to produce urine and did not cause rejection.

“It had perfectly normal functioning,” said Dr. Robert Montgomery, who headed the surgical team at NYU Langone Health last month. “There was no immediate rejection we were worried about.”

This study is an “important step,” said Dr. Andrew Adams of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. It will reassure patients, researchers and regulators that “we are moving in the right direction.”

The dream of animal-to-human or xenotransplantation dates back to the 17th century in a stumbling block of using animal blood for blood transfusions. By the 20th century, surgeons were trying to transplant organs from baboons to humans. Especially Baby Fae, a dying baby who has lived for 21 days with a baboon heart.

In this September 2021 photo provided by NYU Langone Health, a surgical team looks for signs of rejection in the kidneys of pigs attached to the body of a deceased recipient. (Joe Carrotta / NYU Langone Health via AP)

Scientists haven’t had long-lasting success, and with the turmoil of the masses, they have turned from primates to pigs and tinkered with genes to fill the species gap.

Pigs have an advantage over monkeys and apes. Because they are manufactured for food, their use on organs reduces ethical concerns. Pigs have many litters, a short gestation period, and organs comparable to humans.

Pig heart valves have also been successfully used for decades in humans. The anticoagulant heparin comes from the intestines of pigs. Pig skin grafts are used for burns, and Chinese surgeons use pig corneas to restore vision.

In NYU, researchers continued to ventilate the deceased woman’s body after her family agreed to the experiment. Women wanted to donate their organs, but they were not suitable for traditional donations.

The family felt that “something good could come from this gift,” Montgomery said.

Montgomery himself received a transplant three years ago. He was willing to have any organs, so hepatitis C donors to the human heart. “I was one of those who was lying in the ICU and waiting and didn’t know if the organs would be in time,” he said.

Several biotechnology companies are working to develop transplant-friendly porcine organs that help alleviate human organ deficiencies. More than 90,000 people in the United States are preparing for a kidney transplant. Every day, 12 people die while waiting.

This advance is a victory for Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, a company that designed pigs and their cousins, a herd of 100 pigs raised in tightly controlled conditions at a facility in Iowa.

Pigs lack the gene that produces α-gal, the sugar that causes an immediate attack from the human immune system.

December, Food and Drug Administration Approve gene modification In Revivicor pigs as safe for human food consumption and medicine.

But the FDA said developers need to submit more paperwork before transplanting porcine organs into living humans.

“This is an important step in fulfilling our xenotransplantation promise and will save thousands of lives each year in the not too distant future,” said Martine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics. It is stated in.

According to experts, testing non-human primates and human experimentation last month will pave the way for the first experimental porcine kidney or heart transplant for living people in the coming years.

Raising pigs as organ donors may seem wrong for some, but may be more acceptable if they can address animal welfare concerns, says Karen, a researcher at the Hastings Center.・ Mashke said. Clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Another question is whether we should do this just because we can,” Mashke said.

The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.

A groundbreaking new test takes pig-to-human kidney transplants one step closer A groundbreaking new test takes pig-to-human kidney transplants one step closer

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