Historic Xenotransplant Success as Pig Kidney Thrives in Human Body for Two Months - The Top Society

Historic Xenotransplant Success as Pig Kidney Thrives in Human Body for Two Months


In a groundbreaking medical achievement, a pig kidney has notched a remarkable two-month tenure within a human recipient’s body. This exceptional xenotransplant, a medical procedure involving the transplantation of organs between different species, has set a new milestone in the field of organ transplantation.

In the month of July, a team of pioneering researchers at NYU Langone Health embarked on a daring medical journey. They carried out a genetically modified pig kidney transplant into the body of Maurice Miller, a 58-year-old man affectionately known as “Mo.”

Mo had been battling a brain tumor and tragically succumbed to brain death, making him a candidate for this innovative procedure.

Pig kidney Pig kidney
The pig kidney, primed for transplantation through genetic modification, was successfully integrated into Mo’s system. This medical marvel provided hope for both patients and the scientific community as it remained fully functional within Mo’s body for an astonishing 61 days.

The termination of this groundbreaking experiment, performed on a predetermined date, has now opened the door for researchers to meticulously analyze their findings. Their primary objective is to assess how the human body responded to this extraordinary procedure. This invaluable data will be instrumental in preparing for future clinical trials involving xenotransplants in living humans.

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Preliminary observations from the study have already unveiled intriguing insights. Tissue samples collected during the experiment have revealed “novel cellular changes” within the transplant recipient. To address these changes and ensure the kidney’s optimal performance, additional immunosuppression medication was administered. Despite this minor setback, the pig kidney continued to function optimally, offering promising prospects for the future of xenotransplantation.

“We have learned a great deal throughout these past two months of close observation and analysis, and there is great reason to be hopeful for the future,” said Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute and chair of the surgery department, who led the research.

“None of this would have been possible without the incredible support we received from the family of our deceased recipient. Thanks to them, we have been able to gain critical insight into xenotransplantation as a hopeful solution to the national organ shortage.”

In the month of August, yet another research team unveiled significant strides in the realm of pig kidney transplants into humans. Their findings, documented in a peer-reviewed research letter, shed light on the remarkable progress achieved in this field.

Scientists hailing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Heersink School of Medicine conducted a study that demonstrated the transformative potential of pig kidneys in human recipients. Their research, published in the esteemed medical journal JAMA Surgery, revealed that these transplanted pig kidneys not only exhibited the capacity to produce urine but also delivered crucial “life-sustaining kidney function” by effectively filtering waste.

Both research teams, including the earlier mentioned NYU Langone Health team, embarked on parallel paths of inquiry, employing genetically modified pig kidneys for transplantation. The recipients chosen for these experiments were individuals experiencing brain death, a crucial facet of pre-clinical human research.

The NYU Langone team employed a singular genetic modification strategy, skillfully “knocking out” the alpha-gal biomolecule. This specific modification has been identified as a key factor triggering rapid rejection of pig organs within the human body. Additionally, the pig’s thymus was transplanted alongside the kidneys to provide protective measures against potential attacks by the human immune system.

Researchers acknowledge that further research is imperative, especially involving live human recipients, to definitively ascertain whether pig kidney transplants could serve as either a bridge or a destination therapy for individuals grappling with end-stage kidney disease. However, their outlook is imbued with optimism, given the significant progress achieved thus far.

“We’re gaining critical evidence about how well pig kidneys work in the human environment,” said Dr. Adam Griesemer, surgical director of the NYU Langone Pediatric Liver Transplant Program and the Living Donor Transplant Program, said at a news conference last month.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve gained a lot of information about how pig kidneys work to replace the functions in primates. But the critical question – ‘Will those data be translated exactly to the human recipients?’ – was unknown. And for the first time, we’re being able to supply that information. So hopefully this also give some assurance to the FDA regarding the safety of initiating phase one clinical trials.”

A kidney transplant is the primary requirement for the overwhelming majority of individuals awaiting organ transplantation. According to statistics provided by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network of the US Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 89,000 individuals are currently listed on the waiting roster.

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