Pigs used in heart transplants

2014-04-30 13:45


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Cape Town – A new study in transplant technology says that new advances in the field of organ donation may pave the way for the use of animal organs in humans.

According to Life Sciences, new advances in the technology may lead to helping alleviate the shortage of organs need for patients.

The study was done on the hearts of genetically modified pigs; these hearts were transplanted into the bodies of baboons.

The baboon's immune systems were treated with immunosuppressive drugs to avoid the possibility of rejecting the foreign heart.

The pig’s hearts sustained life for more than 500 days. Researchers now hope that this research will lead to even more advancements in the transplant field.

The research has yet to be published but has been submitted for a reviewing.

According to Dr Muhammad Mohiuddin, the chief of transplantation at the national institutes of health's national heart, lung and blood institute, in the US more than 120 000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants.

Mohiuddin believes that transplant technology has the potential to save more lives, and in fact using non-human donors has the potential to save more lives.

Transplanting non-human organs into humans is known as xenotransplantation and may replace human transplants altogether or at the very least act as a stopgap while a human organ is sourced.

The major hurdle to cross at the moment is tissue rejection. Mohiuddin believes that by modifying the organ’s genes the chance of rejection is decreased.

In the study scientists removed the genes known to cause rejection and instead replaced the pig’s genes with human genes.

Pig heats were chosen because of their similarity in anatomy to that of humans.

The researches specifically placed the hearts into the cavity of the baboons. They did not replace the hearts of the baboons, but instead connected the pig hearts to the baboons’ circulatory system.

Mohiuddin argues that the research is at a stage where scientists can control tissue rejection and tells that the next stage will be to replace the baboons’ hearts with the genetically modified pig hearts.
Read more on:    us  |  animals  |  health  |  technolgy

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