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Pig-to-Human Organ Transplant Advances; Over 100,000 Americans Waiting for Donors May Finally Find Solution!

For the first time ever, an organ transplant of a pig’s heart was successfully made into a person earlier this year. Sadly, the patient only survived for a little under two months.

The practice of transferring organs from one species to another, or xenotransplantation, nevertheless represents a significant advancement.

Organ Transplant Development

Scientists are hopeful that improvements in pig-to-human organ transplantation could save some of the lives of the more than 100,000 Americans waiting for organ donations.

Ira speaks with Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin, professor of surgery and director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program, about the lessons he’s learned in the 10 months since the historic heart transplant and the difficulties in getting interspecies organ transplants accepted by the general public.

Ira later speaks with Dr. Megan Sykes, professor, and director of the Center for Translational Immunology at Columbia University, about the most recent developments in pig-to-human organ transplantation research as well as how scientists initially came to the conclusion that pigs were suitable organ donors.

Numerous researchers anticipate that these early initiatives will soon result in an increase in the number of modest clinical studies of xenotransplantation in critically ill patients.

Advocates claim that if effective, such initiatives might significantly reduce the number of people on the list of thousands who require organ transplants (there are more than 100,000 in just the United States alone), many of whom would pass away while waiting.

Researchers claim that they are currently waiting for authorities, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to consider several applications that have been submitted.

According to a spokesman for the FDA, the organization declines to comment on the presence or progress of applications.

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DNA Replacement

Human-Organ Transplant-Americans-Donors
For the first time ever, an organ transplant of a pig’s heart was successfully made into a person earlier this year. Sadly, the patient only survived for a little under two months.

Given that they are more similar to humans in size and morphology and that they are already raised in large numbers for agricultural purposes, pigs would offer a more logical source of organs.

In comparison to human organs, pig organs may potentially offer some advantages. Instead of having a patient and a surgical team present at a moment’s notice when a genetically matched donor dies, surgeries may be booked in advance and organs might be used fresh.

The pigs utilized in Bennett’s transplant, produced by the Blacksburg, Virginia-based business Revivicor, include ten genetic alterations.

Six human genes were inserted, including four that decrease the immune response and two that prevent blood from coagulating as a result of inflammation. The business also changed four pig genes, including one that aids in growing pig organs to the proper size for the human body.

Other teams have taken a little bit different tacks. For instance, Miami, Florida-based Makana Therapeutics has only altered three genes in its pigs.

According to firm founder Joe Tector, the modifications to these genes all stop human antibodies from attacking an organ and have the strongest evidence of increasing organ lifespan in non-human primates.

He claims that as genetic engineering advances, discussing the addition or replacement of DNA will become easier to understand and practical.

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