It is a world first that could change the lives of many patients awaiting transplants. An experiment was carried out at NYU Langone Hospital in New York, consisting of transplanting the kidney of a genetically modified pig into a human. Or rather, in this context, to the blood vessels of a brain dead human, with the consent of his family.
The kidney “worked well” during the two and a half days that the experiment lasted, said Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Institute of Transplantation, adding that it “produced urine “. The patient’s life support was turned off after 54 hours, ending the experiment, but no sign of rejection was seen.
90,000 Americans awaiting kidney transplants
Pork organs, physiologically similar to humans, are already used for certain procedures, such as heart valve replacement or skin grafting. But the human body contains antibodies that attack a type of sugar that is normally present “on all cells of pigs”, causing “immediate rejection” of the organ in normal times. Hence the genetic modification of the pig, free of this sugar.
“What would have happened after three weeks, three months, three years, it remains a question”, concedes Robert Montgomery. The transplant of a pig kidney on a monkey had already worked for a year. The enthusiastic doctor hopes to expand clinical trials in the medium term. “I think people, especially those who are in anticipation (…), will see this as a potential miracle. This is the case for 90,000 Americans today.