A genetically altered pig kidney transplanted into a human

A genetically altered pig kidney transplanted into a human
Recently, a genetically engineered pig kidney was transplanted into a brain dead person, and it is still working well after 32 days.

This is the longest record of functioning of a gene-edited pig kidney in a human. It is a successful effort towards alternative and continuous availability of organs for organ transplant also.

This achievement shows that a pig kidney can perform the functions of a human kidney for at least 32 days without being rejected by the body, with only a single genetic modification and without experimental medicine or device.

Xenotransplantation

  • Xenotransplantation involves transplanting or infusing living cells, tissues or organs from an animal into a human.
  • Pigs are mostly being used in xenotransplantation because their organs are physiologically similar to human organs.
  • Pig kidneys have been used because they are similar in structure to human kidneys and are approximately the same size.

Xenotransplantation Procedure:

  • Genetic engineering is used to modify or alter the pig’s genome.
  • This involves ‘disabling’ four pig genes and adding six human genes to reduce any immunological complications.
  • Last year, surgeons at the University of Maryland tried to save a dying man with a pig’s heart, and he lived for two months.
  • Recent years have seen significant progress in xeno transplantation due to the use of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing.
  • This technique has made it easier to create organs from pigs that are less likely to be attacked by the human immune system.

Benefit:

  • Shortage of transplantable organs can be overcome.
  • Alternative supply of organs will be possible for people suffering from life threatening diseases.
  • New areas of research will open.

Concerns:

  • The rejection rate of such organs by the human body is very high,
  • There is a high risk of infection,
  • It is difficult for the organ to perform all functional roles,
  • Issues related to animal welfare come up etc.

Source – Business Standard

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