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Again, Pig-to-Human Kidney Transplant Succeeds

 


Surgeons at New York University Langone Health announced the successful transplantation of both pig kidneys into humans. The achievement came three months after the first successful procedure was performed.

The exciting results are welcomed by the researchers, as they could pave the way for the use of non-human organs in patients requiring life-saving transplants.


Quoted from IFL Science, both successful operations were experimental, involving people not expected to actually live with pig kidneys.



The first was transplanted into a brain-dead woman whose family gave doctors permission to perform the operation, shortly before her lifeline was turned off. Now, the same team of surgeons has repeated the feat on recently deceased individuals who were treated on a ventilator.


Referred to as xenotransplantation, transplantation from animals to humans is seen by scientists as a potential solution to the current shortage of donor organs. Many people die waiting for transplants because not enough organs are available, but the prospect of using components from livestock instead of waiting for a human donor has the potential to save many lives.



However, the challenge lies in the fact that our immune system is ready to recognize foreign materials. That is why, our bodies naturally reject organs from other species.


For example, most mammals other than humans produce a sugar called alpha-gal, and the insertion of this molecule into our bodies, triggers an antibody response designed to destroy the invading material.


To prevent this from happening, surgeons used pig kidneys that had been genetically engineered to lack the gene responsible for alpha-gal production, thereby evading this immune response.


In their latest experiment, the modified kidney was attached to a vein from the recipient's upper leg and maintained outside the abdomen for 54 hours to be studied and observed.


As with their first attempt, surgeons reported that not only were the organs well received by the recipient's body, they appeared to be functioning properly. Waste products such as creatinine are filtered through the kidneys at an appropriate rate, whereas urine production corresponds to that of normal human kidneys.



"We have been able to replicate the results of the first transformative procedure to demonstrate the continuing promise that these genetically engineered organs can become a renewable source of organs for many people around the world, who await the life-saving 'gift'," said the chief surgeon. Dr. Robert Montgomery.


"There's still a lot of work to be done before we start running human trials. But our initial findings give us hope."

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