25.9 C
Nigeria
Thursday, December 2, 2021

Surgeons successfully transplant a PIG KIDNEY into a human, marking a ‘breakthrough’ in a decades-long quest

Surgeons in the U.S. have successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human for the first time. Reuters reports

It started working as it was supposed to, filtering waste and producing urine without triggering a rejection by the recipient’s immune system.

The procedure, which was carried out at NYU Langone Health in New York, marks a ‘significant step’ in the decades-long quest to use animal organs for life-saving transplants.

It involved the use of a pig whose genes had been altered so that its tissues no longer contained a molecule known to trigger almost immediate rejection.

Join any of these WhatsApp Groups to receive Prompt News Update on WhatsApp

The recipient was a brain-dead patient in New York with signs of kidney dysfunction whose family agreed to the experiment before she was due to be taken off life support, researchers said.

For three days, the new kidney was attached to her blood vessels and maintained outside her body, giving researchers access to it.

Test results of the transplanted kidney’s function ‘looked pretty normal’, said transplant surgeon Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the study.

The kidney made ‘the amount of urine that you would expect’ from a transplanted human kidney, he said, and there was no evidence of the vigorous, early rejection seen when unmodified pig kidneys are transplanted into non-human primates.

The recipient’s abnormal creatinine level — an indicator of poor kidney function — returned to normal after the transplant, Montgomery said.

In the U.K., more than 6,100 people are waiting for an organ transplant, according to the latest figures from this month, including 4,584 patients waiting for a kidney. 

In the U.S., nearly 107,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants, including more than 90,000 awaiting a kidney, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Wait times for a kidney average three-to-five years. 

Researchers have been working for decades on the possibility of using animal organs for transplants, but have been stymied over how to prevent immediate rejection by the human body.

Montgomery’s team believed that knocking out the pig gene for a carbohydrate that triggers rejection — a sugar molecule, or glycan, called alpha-gal — would prevent the problem.

To do this, a pig embryo with one gene modified was implanted inside a surrogate sow by United Therapeutics Corp’s Revivicor unit. 

The sow then delivered a piglet with a modified immune system more compatible with humans. 

Once an adult, the pig also had surgery to attach its thymus to its kidney. The thymus is a small gland near the top of the lungs, which produces white blood cells.

Transplanting the pig thymus along with its kidney is aimed at reducing a person’s long-term immune response to the foreign kidney.

Surgeons then attached the organ to the human recipient’s thigh, giving them access to it for monitoring.

The genetically altered pig, dubbed GalSafe, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in December 2020, for use as food for people with a meat allergy and as a potential source of human therapeutics.

Medical products developed from the pigs would still require specific FDA approval before being used in humans, the agency said.

Other researchers are considering whether GalSafe pigs can be sources of everything from heart valves to skin grafts for human patients.

The NYU kidney transplant experiment should pave the way for trials in patients with end-stage kidney failure, possibly in the next year or two, said Montgomery, himself a heart transplant recipient. 

Those trials might test the approach as a short-term solution for critically ill patients until a human kidney becomes available, or as a permanent graft.

The current experiment involved a single transplant, and the kidney was left in place for only three days, so any future trials are likely to uncover new barriers that will need to be overcome, Montgomery said. 

Participants would probably be patients with low odds of receiving a human kidney and a poor prognosis on dialysis.

‘For a lot of those people, the mortality rate is as high as it is for some cancers, and we don’t think twice about using new drugs and doing new trials (in cancer patients) when it might give them a couple of months more of life,’ said Montgomery.

The researchers worked with medical ethicists, legal and religious experts to vet the concept before asking a family for temporary access to a brain-dead patient, he added.

HOW WAS A PIG KIDNEY ATTACHED TO A HUMAN?

Surgeons have successfully transplanted a pig kidney into a human for the first time without it triggering a rejection by the recipient’s immune system.

The procedure involved the use of a pig whose genes had been altered so that its tissues no longer contained a molecule known to trigger almost immediate rejection. 

Dr Robert Montgomery, who led the study, theorised with his team that knocking out the pig gene for a carbohydrate that triggers rejection — a sugar molecule, or glycan, called alpha-gal — would prevent the issue. 

To do this, a pig embryo with one gene modified was implanted inside a surrogate sow by United Therapeutics Corp’s Revivicor unit. 

The sow then delivered a piglet with a modified immune system more compatible with humans. 

Once an adult, the pig also had surgery to attach its thymus to its kidney. The thymus is a small gland near the top of the lungs, which produces white blood cells.

Transplanting the pig thymus along with its kidney is aimed at reducing a person’s long-term immune response to the foreign kidney.

Surgeons then attached the organ to the human recipient’s thigh, giving researchers access to it.

In theory, the patient’s thymus would then be removed.

Chat with us on WhatsApp – 09012328285

Receive Latest Updates on: WhatsApp: iR News Room, Facebook: Intel Region, Twitter: @intelregion, Instagram: @intelregion Telegram: iR News Room

BREAKING NEWS

- Advertisement -