The reception: The research was done last month and has yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a journal, but outside experts say it is a big step forward. “There is no doubt that this is a most significant breakthrough,” says Darren K. Griffin, Professor of Genetics at the University of Kent, UK. “The research team was careful, using a brain-dead patient, attaching the kidney to the outside of the body, and only monitoring closely for a limited time. So it’s a long way and a lot to discover, ”he added.
“This is a huge breakthrough. It’s a big, big deal, ”Dorry Segev, an unrelated professor of transplant surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told the New York Times. However, he added, “We need to know more about the organ’s longevity.”
The background: In recent years research has increasingly focused on pigs as the most promising way to address the shortage of organs for transplants, but it has faced a number of obstacles, most notably the fact that a sugar in pig cells induces an aggressive rejection reaction People.
The researchers got around this by genetically modifying the donor pig to turn off the gene that codes for the sugar molecule that causes the rejection reaction. The pig was genetically engineered by Revivicor, one of several biotech companies working to develop pig organs for transplantation into humans.
The big prize: There is an urgent need for more kidneys. According to the National Kidney Foundation, more than 100,000 people in the US are currently waiting for a kidney transplant, and 13 die from it every day. Genetically modified pigs could be a vital lifeline for these people if the approach tested at NYU Langone can work for much longer.