A pig kidney functioned successfully in the human body for approximately two months, marking the longest documented case of a xenotransplant of its kind.
In July, researchers at NYU Langone Health transplanted a genetically engineered pig kidney into the body of a 58-year-old man named Maurice Miller, known as Mo, who had a brain tumor and was brain dead. The organ was removed on Wednesday, a predetermined date, after 61 days of study.
Now, researchers will analyze their findings from this preclinical human research to evaluate the body’s response to the procedure and help prepare for clinical trials in live humans.
For example, tissue collected during the study showed some “de novo cellular changes” that required additional immunosuppressive drugs to reverse simple rejection, NYU Langone Health shared in a press release. But in general, the kidneys were found to be functioning “optimally.”
“We have learned a lot over the past two months of careful observation and analysis, and there is great reason to be optimistic about the future,” said Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute and chief of surgery. , who led the research.
“None of this would have been possible without the amazing support we received from the family of the deceased recipient. Thanks to them, we were able to gain critical insight into transplantation as a hopeful solution to the national organ shortage.
In August, another research team published peer-reviewed research on new developments in pig kidney transplantation for humans.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hersink School of Medicine found that the transplanted kidneys don’t just produce urine; They provided “life-sustaining kidney function” by filtering waste, according to A Research thesis Published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery.
Both research teams used genetically modified pig kidneys that were transplanted into brain-dead recipients in what is considered preclinical human research. The NYU Langone team used just one genetic modification to “knock out” the vital molecule alpha-gal, which was found to lead to rapid rejection of pig organs by humans. The thymus gland has also been transplanted into pigs to help protect the kidneys from attack by the human immune system.
The researchers say more work is needed, including studies in living human recipients, to determine whether kidney transplants in pigs could serve as a bridge or destination treatment for people with end-stage kidney disease, but they are optimistic. regarding the progress that has been made.
“We are gaining important evidence about how well pig kidneys function in the human setting,” Dr. Adam Griesemer, surgical director of NYU Langone’s Pediatric Liver Transplantation Program and the Living Donor Liver Transplant Program, said at a news conference last month.
“Over the past 20 years, we have gained a lot of information about how pig kidneys function to replace the functions found in primates. But the crucial question – ‘Will this data translate exactly to human recipients?’ – was not known. For the first time, we are able For providing that information, so hopefully this will also give some assurance to the FDA regarding the safety of starting phase 1 clinical trials.
The vast majority of people waiting for an organ transplant need a kidney. About 89 thousand people are on the waiting list According to the data From the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
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