Pig organs ‘available to patients in a decade’
Pig organs have for a long time been seen as a possibly beeing able to be used as in humans but rejection has been a problem. Now scientists have announced that using genetically modified pigs bred specifically for purpose this will be possible in around 3 years time.
There are enough human organs around for transplant if everyone became a donor and live donations were also made more easily available but in the absence of this and also to develop a methodology that is not reliant on another human dying or undergoing surgery this new 'pig transplant' procedure offers great hope for those awaiting a new organ.
Organs from pigs could be widely available for transplanting into patients in a decade, Lord Winston said yesterday.
The first organs suitable for transplanting, most likely kidneys, are expected to be ready within three years and, if tests are successful, their use could be widespread by 2018.
A herd of as few as 50 pigs is expected to be kept as breeding stock to provide organs “to order” and to slash waiting times for thousands of people needing transplants.
Professor Winston, of Imperial College, London, and his collaborator, Carol Readhead, of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, are leading research into transplanting animal organs into people.
They are attempting to breed pigs that have been genetically modified so that porcine organs are accepted by the human body instead of being immediately rejected.
Human immune systems are quick to react to “foreign bodies” but the scientists are confident that they are close to modifying the genetic make-up of pigs to “humanise” their organs and make animal-to-human transplants possible.
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Berkeley, California, United States