Gene-edited pig kidney trial moves one step closer to human transplants

A monkey in a clinical trial has survived two years with a genetically modified pig kidney. Now the study's success is moving the needle toward gaining FDA approval to begin similar clinical trials in humans, CNN reported Oct. 12. 

While many opt-in to be an organ donor, only about 3 in every 1,000 individuals die in a way where the organs can be successfully harvested for transplants, according to the outlet. Each year, there are around 93,000 people on the national waitlist for a kidney transplant. The results, which were published Oct. 11 in Nature, reveal that when edited for multiple genes and to include certain human properties, zoonotic organs may be a viable path forward to curbing organ shortages and cutting wait times for those in need.

"Ultimately, a genetically engineered porcine model, with an immune tolerance feature, may be the goal," authors of the study wrote. "The successful proof-of-principle study achieved in this study brings us closer to clinical testing of porcine renal grafts for human transplantation."

Other researchers are also working toward this goal. In September, physicians at NYU Langone performed the transplant of a genetically modified pig kidney into a decedent organ recipient in July and now, 61 days later, have completed what is said to be the "longest-documented case of a genetically engineered pig kidney functioning in a human body."

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