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Pig Kidney Transplanted in Human Body Functions for Over a Month: US Scientists

This is the longest period for which a gene-edited pig kidney has functioned in a human.

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The kidney of a pig, which was transplanted in a brain-dead human patient, has been functioning even after 32 days, announced scientists at New York University's Langone Health.

The big point: This is the longest period for which a gene-edited pig kidney has functioned in a human. It is a step forward towards alternate organ transplants, scientists said, calling it a breakthrough.

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The larger context: According to the NYU press release, this is the fifth xenotransplant- the transplantation of tissues, cells, organs from one species to another – at NYU Langone. The procedure was performed on the 14 July and the observation is ongoing and will continue till mid-September.

“This work demonstrates a pig kidney — with only one genetic modification and without experimental medications or devices — can replace the function of a human kidney for at least 32 days without being rejected.”
Dr Robert Montgomery, PhD, MD, Professor of Surgery, Chair of the Department of Surgery, Director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute

Why does it matter? In the United States, according to a recent federal Organ Procurement and Transplant Network (OPTN) data, there are more than 1 lakh people who are on the waiting list for organ transplants. Out of which 88,000 are waiting for a kidney.

With the loss of almost 8 lakh people in the year 2022, in the US, due to end stage kidney disease, the success of such a transplant could be a life-saver and therefore is a crucial step towards an alternate transplant.

“There are simply not enough organs available for everyone who needs one. Too many people are dying because of the lack of available organs, and I strongly believe xenotransplantation is a viable way to change that.”
Dr Robert Montgomery
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What was done? The transplant was carried out on a 57 year old male - whose body was given to science by his family, once he was declared brain dead.

The organ was taken by a GalSafe pig which has been declared as an alternate source of human therapeutics by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020. 

The success was made possible by genetically modifying the pig kidney and removing the gene that triggers the biomolecules that the human immune system attacks and rejects.

“We’ve now gathered more evidence to show that, at least in kidneys, just eliminating the gene that triggers a hyperacute rejection may be enough along with clinically approved immunosuppressive drugs to successfully manage the transplant in a human for optimal performance—potentially in the long-term," Dr Montgomery added.

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Topics:  Health   transplant   Organ Donation 

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