On October 19, USA Today reported that a New York surgeon had successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a brain-dead human. The NYU Langone Health team used genetically engineered porcine kidneys to transplant into deceased donors. A 54-hour study of new kidney function and acceptance.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, who headed the surgical team, told reporters that the kidneys began to function and began to produce large amounts of urine within minutes of being connected to human blood vessels. He adds that the amount of creatinine removed from the blood by the kidneys has dropped from 1.9 to 0.8, indicating that the kidneys are functioning optimally. Dr. Montgomery is a professor and chair of surgery at NYU Langone Health and director of the Transplant Institute.
If found to be long-term compatible, this process of xenotransplantation, or transplanting organs between different species, provides an alternative and additional supply of organs to people facing life-threatening illnesses. May help to provide.
Why is it a genetically engineered pig?
In a transplant performed on September 25, kidneys from edited pigs were used to knock out a gene encoding a sugar molecule called Alpha-gal. Alpha-gal is not normally found in humans, and this molecule can cause a devastating immune response in humans.
Pigs with this genetic alteration are called GalSafe pigs and have been approved by the FDA for human and pharmacological use for people with pig allergies. These pigs have been well studied and have passed various levels of regulatory scrutiny.
Dr. Montgomery added that while primate organs are highly compatible with humans, pigs are easily genetically modified. They also breed better in large litters, grow faster, and are less likely to spread the infection. The size of their organs is the same as ours.
Did they transplant pig kidneys into the human body?
No, the kidneys were attached to the blood vessels in the upper limbs on the outside of the abdomen. It was covered with a protective shield for observation.
Dr. Montgomery explained that during the 54-hour study period, the kidneys remained pink and were well perfused. Biopsies taken every 12 hours and observed under a microscope showed no evidence of rejection and no signs of harmful antibodies from human blood attacking the kidneys.
He added that genetic modification of a single sugar molecule is responsible for preventing rapid rejection. The team used several FDA-approved conventional immunosuppressive drugs to prevent other types of rejection.
Why is this work so important?
“The traditional paradigm that someone has to die for someone to live never keeps up with the ever-increasing incidence of organ failure. The need for organs always outweighs the supply. Human organs supply organs. When imagined as a fossil fuel for paradigms, the organs of pigs are the wind and the sun, which are sustainable and unlimited, “says Dr Montgomery.
He added that more research is needed over a longer period of time to fully understand compatibility in the long run. But he is confident that we can see pigs for living human kidney transplants within a few years. He adds that within about 10 years, pigs will be ready to transplant the heart, lungs, and liver.
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