Pig kidneys successfully transplanted into humans

6 Sept 2023 • Kidney transplant is the gold-standard therapy for patients with ESKD, but only a small percentage of individuals receive a kidney.

The gap between supply and demand is so vast that 40% of listed patients die within 5 years while waiting for a kidney transplant.

To overcome this issue, xenotransplant has been considered as a potential solution for the kidney shortage, however previous reports of pig-to-human xenotransplant had been unsuccessful in achieving creatinine clearance which is a necessary function to sustain life.

Nevertheless, ground-breaking advancements have been reported:

  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine successfully transplanted genetically modified pig kidneys into a brain-dead human, which produced urine and effectively performed life-sustaining kidney functions such as waste filtration.
  • A separate team from the New York University Langone Health achieved a significant breakthrough by having a genetically engineered pig kidney function effectively for a record 32 days in a brain-dead human recipient, marking the longest duration of a genetically modified pig kidney working in a human.

These findings show that pig-to-human xenotransplant provided life-sustaining kidney function in a deceased human with CKD. Nonetheless, future research in living human recipients is required to determine long-term xenograft kidney function.

Xenotransplant can revolutionize the field of transplantation and can be a viable potential solution to an organ shortage crisis responsible for thousands of preventable deaths annually, however there are significant ethical implications of this technique, both for the humans and animals involved.

Source: JAMA | Read full story

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