Gene-edited pig kidney works in a donated body for over a month, surgeons say

Doctors report it's the longest a gene-edited pig kidney has survived and functioned in a human in the US cases..
HealthDay News

Genetically engineered pig kidneys are nearing the point where they could provide a sustainable supply of organs for transplant, a pair of new studies argue.

A lightly modified pig kidney has continued to function for more than a month in a brain dead human donor kept alive on a ventilator, according to an ongoing study conducted at New York University (NYU) Langone Health in New York City.

Surgeon Dr Robert Montgomery, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, says it is the longest that a gene-edited pig kidney has survived and functioned in a human.

“I think we’re going to be able to add some really important information that will get us over the hurdle of scepticism and concern about the long-term safety of these organs in humans,” Dr Montgomery said at a media briefing last week.

Meanwhile, a more heavily manipulated set of gene-edited pig kidneys provided seven days of life-sustaining kidney function as part of a separate study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

A pair of pig kidneys transplanted into a second brain dead donor body continued to function as they would for a living human throughout the weeklong study, producing litre upon litre of properly filtered urine, the UAB researchers said.

In both studies, standard immune-suppressing drugs were used to keep the bodies from rejecting the pig organs, researchers said.

Both sets of researchers said their results added to mounting evidence that modified pig kidneys were ready for human clinical trials.

Both teams used kidneys drawn from pigs bred by Revivicor Inc, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics Corporation.

In the NYU Langone study, the pig kidneys contained just one genetic modification intended to block the most severe immune response to transplanted animal organs.

After 32 days, the kidneys remained healthy and viable in the body of 57-year-old Maurice Miller who never regained consciousness after a brain tumour.

Researchers will continue to track the kidneys’ progress for another month.

These single-edit kidneys differ from earlier engineered pig organs, which have included up to 10 gene edits to make them more acceptable to the human immune system, researchers noted.

The UAB study involved ‘UKidney’ experimental pig kidneys from Revivicor, which contained 10 gene edits and were placed into the body of a 52-year-old man who was not named at the request of his family.

The transplanted kidneys made urine within four minutes of restoration of blood flow, and wound up producing more than 37L of urine during the first 24 hours.

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More information: JAMA Surg 202316 Aug.