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Scientists closer to using pig organs in humans, working on 'Pig 2.0'

Scientists closer to using pig organs in humans, working on 'Pig 2.0'

Growing human transplant organs in pigs has become a more realistic prospect after scientists used advanced gene editing to remove threatening viruses from the animals' DNA.

The ability to breed animals, such as pigs, for the objective of transplanting their organs to humans, however, can help address the current crisis, and a new breakthrough offers hope that this could be possible in the near future. The company said almost 118,000 people in the US need a life-saving organ transplant and every 10 minutes someone is added to the waiting list.

Scientists' goal is to alleviate the shortage of available organs for human transplant.

Despite the difference in size and shape, numerous pig's internal organs are remarkably similar to human organs, making them a candidate for organ donations.

An average of 22 people die in America every day while waiting for organ transplants, but a group of researchers from the biotech company eGenesis hope to eventually change that statistic by using organs from cloned pig cells. Pigs have been a prime candidate as involuntary organ donors since theirs are about the same size as those of humans.

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

The general population of adults was about evenly divided on the use of gene editing in their children, Pew said, with 50 percent rejecting it and 48 percent choosing the procedure.

Harvard University geneticists George Church and Luhan Yang placed edited embryonic cells into a chemical cocktail that encouraged growth and overcame the destructive effect inherent in the modification process.

A team of worldwide science is able to genetically modify the piglets so that their organs are compatible with transplantation on the man, according to an article published Thursday in the american journal Science.

It then took cloning technology, the same used to create Dolly the sheep, to place the genetic material from those cells into a pig's egg and create embryos.

"We want to create a world where there is no organ shortage", Yang said.

"The viruses are particularly troubling", said Prof Church.

Experiments mixing human and pig cells together showed those viruses could escape to infect human tissues. The waiting list for organ transplants is now about 120,000 individuals long, which is twice as long as it was in 1999.

The oldest pigs are almost 5 months old, or adolescents; 15 remain alive. So, they turned to the flashy new gene editing tool, CRISPER-Cas9, to slice up and deactivate all instances of PERV genes in a pig cell line.

We still have a long way to go before we see the first porcine kidneys giving a renal failure patient a new lease on life, but being able to cut out a risky virus could make it a reality sooner than we think.

The BBC reports on the study in the journal Science, noting this "exciting and promising first step" toward xenotransplantation, in which organs are transplanted between different species. "But the use of animal organs such as pig kidneys and hearts is not without serious ethical and biosecurity concerns".