Monkey who received a pig kidney transplant survives for two years in ‘significant step forward’, researchers say
- Porcine kidney transplants were performed on 21 monkeys with different levels of modifications
A monkey has managed to survive for two years after a pig kidney transplant, in what researchers described as an “important step forward”.
Scientists said that this discovery raises hope that pig organs can be used in humans in the long term.
Researchers at the biotechnology company eGenesis and Harvard Medical School transplanted kidneys from genetically modified Yucatan miniature pigs into macaques.
The modifications, which included adding human genes and eliminating pig viruses, were designed to prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
Pig kidney transplants were performed on 21 monkeys, which received different levels of modifications.
Researchers at eGenesis and Harvard Medical School transplanted kidneys from genetically modified Yucatán miniature pigs into macaques (stock image)
Animals that received kidneys modified to carry human genes and remove antigens saw survival rates increase sevenfold, to an average of 176 days.
One monkey survived for 758 days, according to the new study published in the journal Nature.
The researchers said their work brings clinical testing of genetically modified pig kidneys for transplantation into humans a step closer.
Dr. Michael Curtis, CEO of eGenesis, said the study represents “an important step forward for transplantation and medicine more broadly.”
“Our latest publication summarizes an extraordinary milestone that provides hope and paves the way for better outcomes for countless individuals in need of life-saving organ transplants,” he said.
“Cross-section transplantation provides the most sustainable, scalable and feasible approach to providing new sources of organs to patients.
“The proof-of-concept study published this week demonstrates for the first time long-term survival in the largest preclinical study conducted to date in this field, demonstrating success in preserving kidney function in non-human primates for more than two years.
“The results are unprecedented and represent a huge step forward toward human consensus.”
Figures from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service show that 5,562 people are waiting for a kidney transplant in the UK, representing more than three-quarters of all people waiting for any type of kidney transplant in the UK.
When a person receives an organ, tissue or cells from an animal, it is known as an organ transplant.
Pigs are one of the most promising donor animals due to the availability of pigs and gene editing technology as well as their size and similarity to human organs.
Pig kidney transplants were performed on 21 monkeys, which received different levels of modifications (Stock image of a genetically modified pig kidney)
Overcoming rejection of porcine organs by the human immune system has been a complex challenge for more than four decades.
But gene editing technology and new techniques for suppressing the immune system have shown promising results in several recent trials.
Two humans have performed pig heart transplants, the first in 2022 being David Bennett who died two months after surgery.
The second patient, a 58-year-old man with end-stage heart disease, received his new heart on September 20.
The University of Maryland Medical Center in the United States, which performed both pioneering heart surgeries, said the patient, Lawrence Fawcett, “is still recovering and has begun physical therapy.”
Recently, scientists in the United States, from New York University Langone Health, were able to transplant a genetically modified pig kidney into the body of a 58-year-old man who was brain dead.
The kidney functioned for approximately two months, the longest successful transplant of its kind.
(Tags for translation) Daily Mail