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Current Affairs

Pig kidney in human

Date: 23 October 2021 Tags: Biotechnology

Issue

Recently, surgeons from New York have transplanted pig kidney successfully into a brain-dead human. 

 

Background

The surgeons harvested the kidney from a genetically engineered pig before transplanting into the body of a deceased donor. 

 

Details

A study was carried out to understand the function and acceptance of the new kidney in the body for 54 hours.

 

Observations

  • Within minutes of getting connected to the person’s blood vessels, the kidneys started producing large amounts of urine.

  • Creatinine levels from the blood dropped from 1.9 to 0.8 indicating that the kidneys were performing their functions properly.

 

Significance

  • The process is known as Xenotransplantation, the transplantation of organs between different species.

  • The compatible nature of the operation will allow alternative and additional supply of organs for people facing life-threatening diseases.

  • At present, the demand for organs is way higher than the supply. There are also strict regulations for organ transplant.

 

Genetically engineered pig

  • The donor pig was genetically modified to remove a gene that codes for a sugar molecule called Alpha-gal.

  • The Alpha-gal molecule is not naturally found in humans and its presence in a human body will create disastrous immune response.

  • The genetically engineered pigs are called as GalSafe pigs and are prescribed for humans who have pork allergy and also for pharmacology.

 

Benefits of pig donation

  • Primate organs are more suitable for humans but pigs provide added advantage such as easy genetic modification.

  • They grow faster, do not easily transmit infections and the size of their organs are also similar to that of humans.

 

Way ahead

  • The studies are very encouraging. There are no instances of human anti-bodies attacking the pig kidney. The biopsy also showed that kidney cells were working perfectly.

  • There is a high possibility that kidney transplant in a live human will take place soon. In about 10 years, transplant of heart, liver and lungs can also take place.