Testing in the United States for human pig kidney transplantation was successful – there was no immediate rejection.
The kidney was taken from an animal with genetically modified tissues, which is the reason for such an excellent result, Reuters reported on October 20. The scientists were able to change the genes in such a way that they no longer contained the rejection-causing molecule. The human porcine organ transplant was performed by a team of doctors at NYU Langone Health.
For decades, researchers have tried to find a technique that would allow the use of animal organs for transplantation to humans, but they could not overcome the most important obstacle – immediate rejection. The scientists’ suggestion that the gene responsible for the production of oligosaccharides (alpha-gal) could be turned off could help solve the problem. Now this hypothesis has been confirmed in practice.
The recipient was a patient with signs of renal dysfunction and brain dead. The woman’s family agreed to an experimental transplant before being disconnected from life support. Doctors connected the new kidney with blood vessels outside the patient’s body and tested the functionality of the organ transplanted from a pig for three days.
Dr. Robert Montgomery, transplant surgeon and study leader, was pleased with the result, noting that the kidney was functioning “quite normally.” After transplantation, the patient’s abnormal creatinine level, which signals poor renal function, returned to normal.
Montgomery was optimistic that the successful experiment “should pave the way for trials in patients with end-stage renal disease.” Such a technique, i.e. the use of animal organs may be a short-term effective solution for critically ill patients, before a donor human kidney is available.
In the United States alone, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, about 90,000 patients are awaiting kidney transplantation. On average, it takes 4-5 years.