Pig kidney transplant: US researchers test pig-to-human transplant in donor body

Researchers on Thursday reported the latest results in a surprising series of experiments in a quest to save lives with organs from genetically modified pigs.

This time, surgeons in Alabama have transplanted a pig’s kidney into a brain-dead man – a step-by-step rehearsal for an operation they hope to try in living patients with possibly by the end of this year.

Dr Jayme Locke of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who led the latest study and aims to start the clinical trial in pigs, said: “The actual organ shortage is an insoluble crisis. can decide. kidney transplant.

Similar experiments have made headlines in recent months as research into animal-to-human transplants heats up.

Twice this fall, surgeons at New York University temporarily attached a pig kidney to blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient to see them work. And earlier this month, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center gave a dying man a heart from a gene-edited pig that has so far kept him alive. (The video in the player above details the University of Maryland Medical Center’s process.)

But scientists still need to learn more about how to test such implants without endangering the lives of patients. With the help of a family that donates a loved one’s body to science, Locke has mimicked how human organs are transplanted – from removing the “donor’s” pigs’ kidneys to stitching them inside the deceased’s abdomen.

For more than three days, until the man’s body was removed from life support, the pig kidneys survived with no immediate signs of rejection, her team reported Thursday. in the American Journal of Transplantation.

That’s just one of the key findings. Locke says it’s unclear whether the fragile pig kidney blood vessels can withstand the pulsating force of human blood pressure – but they did. One kidney was damaged during the caesarean section and wasn’t working properly, but the other kidney quickly started producing urine like a kidney. No swine virus was transmitted to the recipient and no pig cells were found in his blood.

But Locke said the kidney experiment could have far-reaching implications – because it shows a brain corpse could be a much-needed human model for testing potential new medical treatments. .

The study was conducted in September after Jim Parsons, a 57-year-old Alabama man, was declared brain dead from a mountain bike accident.

After hearing this kind of research “has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives, we know for sure it’s something Jim will definitely put his stamp of approval on,” said Julie O’Hara, the former lover of Parsons said. wife.

The need for another source of organs is huge: While more than 41,000 transplants were performed in the US last year, a record, more than 100,000 people remain on the nation’s waiting list. Thousands of people die every year before their organs are harvested and thousands more are never even added to the list, which is considered too much time.

Animal-to-human transplants, known as xenotransplant transplants, have been attempted unsuccessfully for decades. The human immune system almost immediately attacks foreign tissues. But scientists now have new techniques for editing pigs’ genes to make their organs more human – and some are anxious to try again.

Dr David Kaczorowski of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said the recent series of experiments on pigs “is a huge step forward”. The move to early-stage testing in dozens of people is likely to “become more and more possible.”

A heart transplant surgeon, Kaczorowski has performed experiments examining pig organs in non-human primates that help pave the way but “there are only things we can learn by transplanting them into people.”

Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center who will help develop ethical and policy recommendations for the first clinical trials under National funding, said the Institute of Health.

Dr. Robert Montgomery of NYU Langone Health, who led the center’s kidney experiments this fall, warns:

“I think different organs will require different gene edits,” he said in an email.

For the latest kidney experiment, UAB partnered with Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, which also supplied organs for the recent heart transplant in Maryland and the kidney experiment in New York. The company’s scientists made 10 genetic changes to these pigs, removing some of the genes that trigger the human immune attack and cause the animals’ organs to grow too large – and added some human genes to make the organs look less foreign to the human immune system.

Then there are practical questions like how to reduce the time it takes to transport pig organs to their destination. UAB has placed the transplanted pigs in a germ-free facility in Birmingham complete with an operating room-like space for the organs to be harvested and ready for transplantation.

Revivicor chief scientific officer David Ayares said future plans include building more such facilities near transplant centers.

Copyright © 2022 of the Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Pig kidney transplant: US researchers test pig-to-human transplant in donor body

Dais Johnston

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