12 August 2015

Xenotransplantologists ' record

Doctors set a record for interspecific kidney transplantation


An international group of researchers from China and America has set a record in the field of xenotransplantology: a pig kidney transplanted to a baboon worked for 136 days. Article by Iwase et al. Pig kidney graft survival in a baboon for 136 days: longest life-supporting organ graft survival to date is published in the journal Xenotransplantation, MIT Technology Review briefly writes about it: Surgeons Smash Records with Pig-to-Primate Organ Transplants.

To reduce the risk of kidney rejection during transplantation, an organ of a genetically modified pig was used in the experiment. The animal was raised by the American biotech company United Therapeutics, one of the largest companies engaged in research in the field of xenotransplantology. 

A baboon with a transplanted kidney lived for 136 days, after which he was killed due to septic shock. Researchers interpret such high indicators optimistically. According to the founder of United Therapeutics, this experiment shows that today interspecific organ transplantation is more an engineering task than a complex scientific problem.

The main problem of transplantology is the immune response, the recipient's body rejects the transplanted organ and it ceases to function after a while. To suppress immunity during organ transplantation, various drugs are used to suppress immunity, giving the body time to "get used" to a new organ, but in the case of xenotransplantation, immunosuppressants are not enough. The first xenograft transplant was performed in 1984 in California, a newborn girl was transplanted with a baboon heart, but three weeks later she died of a kidney infection. 

The human body reacts to the organs of pigs even more acutely than to the organs of primates. In modern xenotransplantology, to reduce the risk of rejection of transplanted organs, experiments are being conducted to change the pig genome so that CD47 glycoprotein is synthesized on the cell surface, which protects healthy red blood cells from phagocytes in the human body. Theoretically, due to this, the human immune system should perceive the cells of the organ transplanted from such a pig as "its own" and not cause rejection of the xenograft.

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