Double pig kidney transplant successfully performed in brain-dead patient

Scientists successfully transplanted two kidneys from a genetically modified pig into a human recipient and found that the organs produced urine and were not rejected during the days-long experiment.

The procedure was performed in a brain-dead patient who was a registered organ donor and whose family authorized the research, according to the new study, published Thursday (Jan. 20) in the American Journal of Transplantation. The research team intends to eventually transplant pig kidneys into living patients, in formal clinical trials — but first the team wanted to address some critical safety questions.

In the new study, the researchers transplanted not one, but two pig kidneys inside a recipient’s body, where kidneys would be placed during a conventional human-to-human transplantation…From the procurement of the pig’s kidneys to the surgery itself, the study followed the exact same procedure that the team will use in a future clinical trial, Dr. Jayme Locke, lead surgeon said…

Most of these genetic modifications are intended to reduce the risk of a transplant being rejected by the human body. For instance, the modified pigs lack three genes that each code for specific carbohydrates; in the human body, these carb molecules can set off an aggressive immune reaction. The donor pigs also lack a gene that codes for a specific growth hormone receptor, and without this receptor, the pigs’ organs should stop growing once transplanted into a person.

Finally, the pigs carry six extra genes plucked from the human genome: four to help make each pig’s organs appear more familiar to the human immune system and two to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Researchers are getting better and better at this – all the time. Sooner or later, full-blown ethics reviews will have to allow for inter-species transplants.

One thought on “Double pig kidney transplant successfully performed in brain-dead patient

  1. Bardo Thodol says:

    Cheating Death: Yale Scientists Restore Cell, Organ Function in Pigs After Death
    Within just minutes of the final heartbeat, a cascade of biochemical events triggered by a lack of blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen begins to destroy a body’s cells and organs. However, a team of researchers at Yale University has discovered that massive and permanent cellular failure doesn’t have to happen so quickly.
    Using a new technology the scientists developed that delivers a specially designed cell-protective fluid to organs and tissues, the team restored blood circulation and other cellular functions in pigs a full hour after their deaths. They report their findings in the August 3 edition of the journal Nature.
    Their results may help extend the health of human organs during surgery and expand the availability of donor organs, the authors said.

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