Pig Kidney Lasts Four Months in Baboon, Could Be New Source for Human Transplants

ALN | Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter

Thousands of people die each year while waiting on organ-transplant lists. But efforts to get more organ donors — and the logistics of transporting valuable organs on ice potentially thousands of miles — have not resulted in any major gains over the last few decades.

Enter xenotransplantation: the concept of growing organs in animals which can be harvested for transplantation into humans.

A team genetically engineered pigs to grow kidneys that were then transplanted into baboons for a record-setting 136 days before the primate died, according to a study published in the latest issue of the journal Xenotransplantation.

"This outcome encourages us that clinical renal xenotransplantation may become a reality," the authors wrote.

Part of the scientific team was from Revivicor, an animal-organ division of the biotech company United Therapeutics.

United envisions an "unlimited supply of transplantable organs" involving the concept.

The effort is being spearheaded by Martine Rothblatt, the CEO of the company, whose one daughter has a potentially fatal lung condition and which would require a transplant, according to a report by the MIT Technology Review. Continue reading