Monkey Survives Over Two Years with Genetically Engineered Pig Kidney Transplant

Researchers from the US biotech company eGenesis and Harvard Medical School have achieved a significant breakthrough in organ transplantation. A monkey has successfully lived for more than two years with a kidney from a genetically modified pig, offering hope for addressing the global donor shortage for patients with organ failure.

Quick Facts

  • Genetic Engineering: The pig kidneys were genetically altered using the Crispr gene-editing tool to prevent organ rejection and eliminate pig viruses that could be activated in recipients.
  • Study Results: Monkeys with kidneys edited to disable three genes survived an average of 24 days. However, when seven human genes were added, the survival rate increased to an average of 176 days.
  • Longest Survival: With immune system suppression treatment, one monkey lived for 758 days post-transplant.

The research, published in the journal Nature, involved transplanting kidneys from Yucatan miniature pigs into macaques. The choice of Yucatan pigs is due to the similarity in kidney size to adult humans. Dr. Michael Curtis, CEO of eGenesis, emphasized the significance of this “extraordinary milestone” and its potential to revolutionize organ transplants.

While the results are promising, challenges remain. The primary concern is ensuring that animal organs function effectively and safely in humans without being rejected by the patient’s immune system. The recent success puts eGenesis closer to meeting the US Food and Drug Administration’s requirement for a 12-month survival in animals before initiating human clinical trials.

Two humans have received pig heart transplants to date. The first patient passed away two months post-surgery in 2022, while the second, Lawrence Faucette, underwent the procedure in September this year and is currently recovering.

Experts in the field, such as Prof. Muhammad Mohiuddin from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, advocate for moving genetically modified pig organs into human trials. However, Prof. Dusko Ilic from King’s College London, while acknowledging the groundbreaking nature of the study, believes there’s still a considerable journey ahead before clinical trials can commence.

Original article source: The Guardian

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