Innovation That Matters

The study from the University of Alabama is one of several recent xenotransplantation breakthroughs | Photo source Piron Guillaume on Unsplash

University successfully transplants genetically-modified pig kidneys into a living human

Health & Wellbeing

The kidneys were transplanted into a brain dead patient whose body has so far not rejected them

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Spotted: Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have successfully transplanted genetically-modified pig kidneys into the body of a brain dead human. The success of the transplant provides further evidence for the effectiveness of xenotransplantation – the transplantation into a human of live cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source.

The news follows a similar study carried out by surgeons from New York University (NYU) Langone Health which also attached genetically modified pig kidneys to a brain-dead patient.

The University of Alabama study goes further than the NYU transplant by exploring how such a procedure could work in the real world. “We completely mimicked the process of human-to-human transplantation and really tested operationally our ability to perform xenotransplantation at a level that would be considered clinical grade and appropriate for a living person,” explains Jayme Locke, an abdominal transplant surgeon involved in the UAB study.

The UAB study transplanted the kidneys directly into the patient while the NYU study attached the organs externally. The kidneys in the UAB study were also more heavily modified, with 10 modifications compared to just three in the NYU transplant.

Next up for UAB will be organising a clinical trial, which the team hopes will take place at the end of this year. 

At Springwise, we have previously spotted a 3D-printed heart, but xenotransplantation is a development which is only just beginning to become viable in practice.

Written By: Katrina Lane



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