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Pig farms: the future to meet the transplant needs of humans, by Elmer Huerta

Let us imagine that, in the not too near future, the surgeon of a very ill person, in need of a transplant of liver, simply order – just as we order a pair of shoes online today – that, for such a day and time, a liver be sent to you for your patient.

The call is received by an organ procurement laboratory to transplant. Procedures begin to identify and slaughter a genetically modified pig to provide the required organ. Other organs of the slaughtered animal [corazón, riñones, la piel, páncreas o algún otro], could be sent to other patients.

That science fiction situation is very close to becoming reality. It was recently reported that, for the first time in the history of medicine, humans have received a heart Y kidneys from genetically modified pigs, organs that began to function normally, without being rejected by the immune system of the recipients.

Organ and tissue compatibility

In the field of organ transplant There is a very important concept called: that the tissues or organs of a human being are accepted by that of another.

: blood group test crossmatch (in which donor and recipient blood are mixed to look for incompatible neutralizing antibodies) and HLA (human leukocyte antigandn’), in which antigens are sought on the donor cells that can be rejected by the recipient. Of the over 100 antigens that can cause rejection, six are the most important: three are inherited from the father and the other three from the mother.

It is easy to imagine that if among human beings, members of the same species ‘Homo sapiens’, there is so much diversity and possibility of rejection of an organ or tissue for transplant, But science is advancing.

“The fact that the first xenotransplantations have been achieved gives us hope that more people can be saved”

genetically modified pigs

The pig was chosen for the xenotransplantation because these animals develop organs of

Science has made it possible to discover that, when recognized by the human being, they provoke an intense reaction of rejection. Knowing these genes, it is then possible to turn off those that cause rejection and replace them with human genes, to achieve ‘humanized pigs’.

One of those pigs is the GE-10 of the company revivicor, with six include the insertion of human genes, three for the knockout of porcine genes, and the possibility of rejection is eliminated, and the last one, to inhibit the growth hormone of the pig, and that the heart does not continue to grow after transplanted.

The way to create genetically modified pigs is through the

. First, they prepare an egg by artificially inseminating a sow’s ovum with a pig’s sperm. They then remove the nucleus from that egg and make 10 genetic modifications to the nucleus of a somatic pig cell. The freshly prepared genetically modified nucleus is then transferred to the empty shell of the egg, replacing the extracted nucleus. That new, genetically modified cell is activated with an electric current so that it develops and forms an embryo. The embryo is transferred to the uterus of a sow so that, after 114 days, a genetically modified pig is born, raised in strict isolation measures to avoid contagion of cytomegalovirus and endogenous porcine retrovirus C.

The farms of the future

It is not unreasonable to imagine that hundreds or thousands of genetically modified pigs could

Only in the US do they live 700,000 people with chronic renal insufficiency, who will need a transplant of kidneys at some point in its evolution. The vast majority will die waiting for that long-awaited kidney.

, and with one of the lowest donation rates in the world (two per million inhabitants, which fell to 0.5 per million due to the pandemic), the fate of these patients is certain death.

Science is advancing and the fact that the first xenotransplantations in the history of medicine have been achieved gives us hope that, in the next decade, the lives of


Source: Elcomercio

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