China’s xenotransplantation boom: Gene editing providing modified pig organs for human transplant

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Credit: Xinhua
Credit: Xinhua

While forced organ harvesting of prisoners of conscience in China has drawn worldwide condemnation, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been investing heavily in controversial research on using genetically modified pigs as a source of human organ transplantation, touting it as a “world first” achievement. And the cloning of pigs has long since entered “industrial scale.”

According to Chinese media, in 2020, gene editing-related startups in China alone received about 2 billion yuan ($310 million) in funding.

CCP mouthpiece Xinhua published a special feature on Sept. 22, 2020, saying that Chinese scientists had made another breakthrough in xenotransplantation technology in genetically edited pigs.

Xinhua reported that the team of Yang Luhan, founder of Qihan Biotech in Hanzhou, China, and cofounder and chief scientist of Cambridge gene-editing company eGenesis in Boston, had created a prototype xenograft with clinical potential, successfully solving two major xenograft safety challenges: removing porcine endogenous retroviruses from pigs and enhancing xenograft immunocompatibility.

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“Technological advances are often ahead of regulation, ethical norms and public perception. As researchers and technology enablers, we have a responsibility to think well about these issues and share the logic of our thinking with the public,” Yang Luhan told Xinhua in 2019.

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