A Big Step Forward In Solving The Organ Shortage

This story is part 4 of an occasional series on the current progression in Regenerative Medicine. In 1999, I defined regenerative medicine as the collection of interventions that restore to normal function tissues and organs that have been damaged by disease, injured by trauma, or worn by time. I include a full spectrum of chemical, gene, and protein-based medicines, cell-based therapies, and biomechanical interventions that achieve that goal.

Just last week, New York University’s Langone Health published a press release detailing the successful transplant of a genetically engineered pig kidney to a human body—a process called xenotransplantation and a major goal in regenerative medicine that has been in the works since the early years of my career.

Physicians at NYU Langone Health conducted a two-hour operation to transplant a kidney from a genetically modified pig into a deceased recipient. The recipient’s vitals were maintained with a ventilator during surgery and observation periods with the consent of the family. The surgical team attached the genetically modified pig kidney to the recipient’s blood vessels, outside of the abdomen. The primary goal of the study was to see if the modified pig organ would be rejected by the body’s immune system. The team observed the function of the kidney to look for signs of rejection over the course of 54 hours. The organ successfully evaded rejection and even functioned normally, creating urine and proper waste products such as creatinine.

This operation serves as pivotal data for the Federal Drug Administration and could pave the way for greater xenotransplant research on not only kidneys but other crucial organs such as the heart and lungs.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.