Surgeons successfully transplanted a kidney from a pig into a brain-dead man, and the organ has been functioning regularly for almost a month now. This is an essential step towards a surgery that the New York team wants to one day undertake on live patients.
Researchers from all across the nation are hustling to figure out how to transplant human organs into animals in order to save human lives, and the corpses that are given for study provide an incredible opportunity for them to practise.
The most recent experiment, which was reported on Wednesday by NYU Langone Health, represents the longest period of time that a pig kidney has functioned in a human, even if that person has passed away; nevertheless, the experiment is not yet complete. The functioning of the kidney is going to be monitored by the researchers for a second month.
The family of Maurice “Mo” Miller, a 57-year-old man from upstate New York, was convinced to give their loved one’s corpse to an experiment in order to explore the prospect that kidneys taken from pigs may one day assist alleviate the severe scarcity of organs that are suitable for transplant.
Due to the fact that people’s immune systems attacked the alien tissue, attempts at animal-to-human transplants have been unsuccessful for decades. Researchers are now employing pigs with organs that have been genetically engineered to be more similar to human organs.
In a desperate effort to save the life of a dying man, surgeons at the University of Maryland successfully transplanted a gene-edited pig heart into him last year with the special approval of regulatory authorities. He barely lived for two months before the organ failed for reasons that aren’t completely understood but that may serve as lessons for any future transplant efforts.
At this time, the Food and Drug Administration is mulling over whether or not they should authorise some limited but rigorous research on the transplantation of pig hearts or kidneys into human volunteers.
The experiment that was conducted at NYU is only one of several recent innovations that are aimed at accelerating the beginning of clinical trials of this kind. In related news on Wednesday, the University of Alabama in Birmingham announced yet another significant achievement: they were able to transplant two pig kidneys into another donor body, where they functioned correctly for seven days.
The kidneys are responsible for a vast variety of functions throughout the body in addition to the production of urine. Dr. Jayme Locke, a transplant surgeon at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, revealed the results of lab tests documenting the functionality of gene-modified pig organs in the journal JAMA Surgery. She said that the experiment that took place over the course of a week showed that they are able to “provide life-sustaining kidney function.”
There are now more than 100,000 people waiting for a transplant in the United States, and thousands of them pass away every year while they are on the waiting list.
In the past, researchers from NYU and the University of Alabama in Birmingham performed transplantation of pig kidneys into human patients who had passed away. These transplants were only successful for two or three days. In addition, a group from New York University has successfully implanted pig hearts into donated human bodies for three days of rigorous testing.
But how do the organs of pigs respond to an immunological onslaught that occurs more often in humans and takes approximately a month to develop? Only more extensive testing will provide the answer.
The procedure required precise timing to be successful. In the wee hours of that morning, Drs. Adam Griesemer and Jeffrey Stern boarded a plane and headed hundreds of miles away to a facility in Virginia where genetically modified pigs are housed. There, they were able to harvest kidneys that lacked a gene that would cause the human immune system to immediately destroy them.
While they were racing back to NYU, Montgomery was extracting both kidneys from the donated donor to ensure that there would be no question as to whether or not the pig version would be successful. One of the pig kidneys was used for transplantation, while the other was frozen so that it could be compared later.
How long ought these trials to be carried out for? That is not apparent, according to Alabama’s Locke, and among the ethical problems that arise from this are how long a family may be comfortable and whether or not it is adding to their pain. Because it is difficult to keep a person who is brain dead on a ventilator, the success of the procedure is also contingent on how stable the donated corpse is.
She claimed that in her own experiment, the donated body was stable enough that if the research hadn’t been mandated to cease after a week. She was referring to the fact that the experiment was supposed to terminate after a week.
Dr. Muhammad Mohiuddin of the University of Maryland warns that it is not clear how closely the reactions of a deceased body will mimic those of a live patient to a pig organ. However, he believes that this research will educate the public about xenotransplantation so that “people will not be shocked” when it is time to try again in the living.