China-born clones bring pig organs closer for human transplants — China Focus

China-born clones bring pig organs closer for human transplants — China Focus

The research, reported in the prestigious journal Science, could make it possible to transplant pig organs such as the heart, kidney, liver and lungs into human patients.

Indeed, xenotransplantation, name these transplants of animal organs on humans, involve the risk of transmission of a virus which it is feared that it could infect humans.

Cloning often fails; most of the embryos and fetuses died before birth, and some piglets died soon after they were born. Church said that the company aims to engineer pigs with organs that are very compatible with patients that taking anti-rejection drugs would no longer be necessary.

"We plan to increase the number of organs available through xenotransplantation [cross-species transplantation], when human donation isn't an option", eGenesis' website states.

Scientists may have stumbled upon a solution to stop the 500 people who die in the United Kingdom every year waiting for an organ transplant - pigs.

"Getting organs from animals - particularly from pigs, whose organs tend to be close in size and work similarly to human organs - could be the solution to that shortage", Business Insider says.

Whether or not pig retroviruses would truly pose a risk of causing disease in humans remains controversial.

Now they might have even more use for humans.

"This is the first publication to report on PERV-free pig production", said Dr Luhan Yang, co-founder and chief scientific officer at eGenesis, who developed the piglets, in a statement.

"We want to create a world where there is no organ shortage", Yang said. "While using pig organs, we can in principle use as many as we need".

Pigs are pretty great animals: They're adorable, and unless you're a vegetarian, you probably find them delicious.

"The next major step is to solve the problem of vigorous immune responses, such as complement activation, coagulation and thrombosis, triggered by xenotransplantation", Lin said.

While the latest research was able to remove the threat of the pig virus, there are still other concerns in transferring pig organs into humans. The waiting list for organ transplants is now about 120,000 individuals long, which is twice as long as it was in 1999. Of those, 15 are still alive, and the oldest is four months. Just last week, US scientists were able to demonstrate they could successfully CRISPR out a faulty heart gene mutation in human embryos.

"Prof Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics, University of Kent, says: "This represents a significant step forward towards the possibility of making xenotransplantation a reality", while Prof Ian McConnell, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Science, University of Cambridge, cautions: "[Organ transplant] is a huge unmet need of modern medicine.