Brazilian Researchers Advance To Use Pig Organs In Humans


Pig: A group of Brazilian researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) is looking for resources to carry out pig kidney transplants in humans. They performed genetic editing in pigs as part of the study aimed at xenotransplantation — a technique that would allow transplanting organs and tissues from pigs to humans in the future. The tests are planned to start in two years, according to information supplied by Agência Brasil.

Genetic editing of the animals is one of the most important stages of the project, as it prevents the recipient’s body from rejecting the porcine organ.

Research in progress

At the time of research, the first pig embryos are being produced from genetically modified cells, which are the first cloning experiments in this study.

The cell produced in the laboratory — with the modified genome — is then subjected to a cloning technique and, from that cell, it is possible to generate an embryo that will develop in the animal’s belly and it is hoped that the organs are then compatible with transplantation in humans.

Ernesto Goulart, a researcher at the Center for the Study of the Human Genome and Stem Cells at USP, says that the first little pigs should be born in 6 to 8 months. “Our group expects, within two years, to start the first studies in humans, with transplants in humans. And, in up to five years, there is an expectation of starting clinical studies approved by the National Health Surveillance Agency [Anvisa]”, he said to Agência Brasil.

Experiments in the United States

In October, researchers at NYU Langone Health Academic Medical Center in New York performed the world’s first successful xenotransplantation.

The experimental transplant was performed in a brain-dead patient. Family members authorized the surgery before the equipment that kept her alive was turned off. The experiment was conducted by surgeon-physician Robert Montgomery.

The American newspaper The New York Times, professor of transplants Dorry Segev, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who did not participate in the research, said that the surgery is a great advance. “But we still need to know more about the organ’s longevity,” he said.