These gene-edited pigs could eliminate shortage of human organ transplants

xenotransplantation
Veterinarian Barbara Kessler shows off her facility's youngest piglets. Image: Laetitia Vancon

It’s what’s inside this animal that matters. Her body has been made a little less pig-like, with four genetic modifications that make her organs more likely to be accepted when transplanted into a human. If all goes according to plan, the heart busily pumping inside a pig like this might one day beat instead inside a person.

Different types of tissues from genetically engineered pigs are already being tested in humans. In China, researchers have transplanted insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells from gene-edited pigs into people with diabetes. A team in South Korea says it’s ready to try transplanting pig corneas into people, once it gets government approval. And at Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers announced in October that they had used gene-edited pig skin as a temporary wound covering for a person with severe burns.

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But when it comes to life-or-death organs, like hearts and livers, transplant surgeons still must rely on human parts. One day, the dream goes, genetically modified pigs like this sow will be sliced open, their hearts, kidneys, lungs and livers sped to transplant centers to save desperately sick patients from death.

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Read full, original post: Meet the pigs that could solve the human organ transplant crisis

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