Researchers have discovered that a genetically altered pig kidney that was transplanted into a brain-dead patient more than a month ago is still functioning normally. On July 14th, a team of surgeons performed the treatment in New York, and now, for the second month, experts are monitoring the kidney’s performance.
It is the longest time a human kidney from a gene-edited pig has ever worked. Is this organ actually going to function similarly to a human organ? According to early indications, it appears to be, said Dr. Robert Montgomery, director of the transplant institute at NYU Langone.
The deceased patient, Maurice “Mo” Miller of upstate New York, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 57 from an unidentified brain tumour, preventing usual organ donation. His family agreed to donate his body for the study because they believed that pig kidneys might one day help to alleviate the severe lack of transplantable organs.
A single kidney from a genetically modified pig was substituted for the deceased patient’s own kidneys by Dr. Montgomery, who saw it start generating pee right away. The NYU study is one of many designed to hasten the beginning of clinical trials on live people. A pair of genetically altered pig kidneys from another donated body had been claimed to have functioned normally by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Wednesday.
In the first 24 hours, the kidneys produced more than 37 litres of urine and were not rejected. For the whole seven-day research, they kept working as they would in a living human. The Jama Surgery journal has accepted the UAB findings after peer review. The unidentified 52-year-old guy who received the pig kidneys had stage 2 chronic renal disease and wanted his body donated for study. He also had high blood pressure.
The paper’s lead author, Jayme Locke, dean of UAB’s Heersink School of Medicine, said: “It has been truly extraordinary to see the first-ever pre-clinical demonstration that appropriately modified pig kidneys can safely provide normal, life-sustaining kidney function in a human and be achieved using a standard immunosuppression regimen.”
“We were able to gather additional safety and scientific information critical to our efforts to seek FDA (Food and Drug Administration) clearance of a Phase I clinical trial in living humans,” she continued, “and hopefully add a new, desperately needed solution to address an organ shortage crisis responsible for tens of thousands of preventable deaths each year.”
In January 2022, researchers from UAB performed the first genetically engineered pig kidney transplant on a person. The 57-year-old transplant patient Jim Parsons was rendered brain dead. The organ donor’s family agreed to let him remain on a ventilator so that his body would continue to operate throughout the trial. The most recent study made use of the Parsons Model, which was created at UAB to assess the viability and safety of kidney transplants from pigs to humans without endangering actual people.