Friday, May 27, 2022

US researchers test human transplant from pig into donated body – Red Deer Advocate

Researchers on Thursday reported the latest in a surprising series of experiments to save human lives with organs from genetically modified pigs.

This time, surgeons in Alabama transplanted a pig kidney into a brain-dead man — a step-by-step rehearsal for an operation they hope to perform in living patients, possibly later this year.

“Organ shortage is really a constant crisis and we never had a real solution to it,” said Dr. of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Jayme Locke, who led the latest study and aimed to begin clinical trials of the pig. Kidney transplant.

Similar experiments have made headlines in recent months as research into animal-to-human transplants heats up.

Twice this fall, New York University surgeons temporarily attached a pig kidney to blood vessels outside a deceased recipient’s body to see it at work. And earlier this month, surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center gave a dying man a heart from a gene-edited pig that’s keeping him alive until now.

But scientists still need to learn more about how to test such implants without risking a patient’s life. With the help of a family that donated a loved one’s body for science, Locke mimics the way human organ transplants are performed—from removing a pig’s “donor” kidney to stitching them inside a dead person’s abdomen. .

His team reported Thursday in the American Journal of Transplantation that for more than three days, until the man’s body was removed from life support, the pair of pig kidneys showed no signs of immediate rejection.

This was only one of several major findings. Locke said it’s unclear whether the delicate pig kidney blood vessels could withstand the pounding force of human blood pressure — but they did. During removal from the pig, one kidney was damaged and not working properly but the other one started to urinate as fast as the kidney. No pig virus was transmitted to the recipient, and no pig cells were found in his bloodstream.

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But Locke said the kidney experiment could have more far-reaching implications — as it shows that a brain-dead body could be a much-needed human model for testing potential new medical treatments.

The research was conducted in September, when Jim Parsons, a 57-year-old Alabama man, was declared brain-dead from a dirt bike racing accident.

Julie O’Hara, Parsons’ ex, said, “After hearing research like this “had the potential to save thousands of lives, we knew without a doubt that Jim would certainly have put his stamp of approval.” ” wife.

The need for a second source of organs is huge: While more than 41,000 transplants were performed in the US last year, a record, more than 100,000 people remain on national waiting lists. Thousands die each year before receiving organs and thousands never make it to the list, which is considered a very long shot.

Animal-to-human transplantation, called xenotransplantation, has been attempted without success for decades. People’s immune systems attack foreign tissue almost immediately. But scientists now have new techniques for editing pig genes so that their organs are more human-like – and some are eager to try again.

The recent string of pig experiments is “a huge step forward,” said Dr. David Kazarowski of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Moving on to earlier phase trials in potentially dozens of people is “becoming more and more feasible.”

Kazorowski, a heart transplant surgeon, has conducted experiments testing pig organs in non-human primates, which helped pave the way but “there are only things we can learn by transplanting them into humans.”

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Barriers remain before formal testing can begin in people, including deciding who will qualify for pig organ testing, said Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, which was previously under a national grant. Help develop ethics and policy recommendations for clinical trials. Health Institute.

Scientists still have a lot to learn about how long pig organs live and how to genetically replace them, warns Dr. Robert Montgomery of NYU Langone Health, who conducted kidney experiments at that center in the fall. led.

“I think different organs will require different genetic modifications,” he said in an email.

For the latest kidney experiment, UAB teamed up with Revvicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, which provided organs for a recent heart transplant in Maryland and a kidney experiment in New York. The company’s scientists made 10 genetic changes in these pigs, excluding some of the genes that trigger human immune attacks and making the animal’s organs too large – and adding some human genes so that the organs are immune to people’s systems. Look less foreign.

Then there are practical questions such as how to reduce the time taken to transport pig parts to their destination. UAB kept the replaced pigs in a germ-free facility in Birmingham that had an operating room-like space to remove the organs and prepare them for transplant.

David Ayres, Revvicor’s chief scientific officer, said future plans include building more such facilities near transplant centers.


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Lauren Niergaard, Associated Press

health care and medicine

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