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US surgeons perform first pig-to-human kidney transplant

US surgeons perform first pig-to-human kidney transplant

A 62-year-man with end-stage renal disease has become the first human to receive a new kidney from a genetically modified pig, doctors from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston announced on Thursday.

The four-hour surgery, performed on March 16, “marks a major milestone in the quest to provide more readily available organs to patients,” the hospital said in a statement.

The patient, Richard Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is recovering well and expected to be discharged soon, the hospital said.

Slayman had received a transplant of a human kidney at the same hospital in 2018 after seven years on dialysis, but the organ failed after five years and he had resumed dialysis treatments.

The kidney was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts from a pig that had been genetically edited to remove genes that could be harmful to a human recipient and add certain human genes to improve compatibility. In addition, the company inactivated certain viruses inherent to pigs that have the potential to infect humans.

Kidneys from similarly edited pigs raised by eGenesis had successfully been transplanted into monkeys that were kept alive for an average of 176 days, and in one case for more than two years, researchers reported in October in the journal Nature.

Drugs used to help prevent rejection of the pig organ by the patient's immune system included an experimental antibody therapy called tegoprubart, developed by Eledon Pharmaceuticals.

The pig kidney procedure moves the field of xenotransplantation—the transplanting of organs or tissues from one species to another—closer to becoming a potential solution to the worldwide organ shortage.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 100,000 people in the US await an organ for transplant, with kidneys in the greatest demand. — Reuters