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Gene-edited pig kidney transplanted into first living human patient

Date: 25.3.2024 

Organ transplants can save and extend lives, but unfortunately there’s a constant shortage of human donors. In recent years, scientists have experimented with transplanting organs from pigs, since they’re about the same size as our own.

Kredit: Massachusetts General Hospital.They need a little tweaking first of course – the CRISPR gene editing tool is used to remove certain pig genes and insert human ones, as well as clearing out pig retroviruses that may cause rejection.

Two patients have previously received transplants of genetically edited pig hearts, although both died within a matter of months. Pig kidney transplants have proven promising, functioning in brain-dead patients for the duration of the experiments – up to two months.

But now, a living patient has received one for the first time. 62-year old Richard Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, who has been living with end-stage kidney disease, received the gene edited pig kidney on Saturday, March 16 at Massachusetts General Hospital. As of last week, the patient was reported to be recovering well and was expected to be discharged soon. “I saw it not only as a way to help me, but a way to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive,” Slayman said in a statement.

According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, there were almost 90,000 patients awaiting new kidneys in the US in 2023, while less than 16,000 received a transplant. Unfortunately, about 17 people die each day awaiting a transplant.

Image source: Massachusetts General Hospital.




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