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The Global Problem of Organ Transplantation Can Be Solved With the Help of Genetic Engineering

18.08.2023
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https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/fullarticle/2808483

Pig kidneys, with the permission of the patient's family, were transplanted into a 50-year-old man who had previously been diagnosed with brain death. For the first time in the history of medicine, donor organs not only were not rejected, but also began to function normally - that is, to produce urine, cleansing the body of the new host from toxic waste products.

So that after the operation the patient's body does not reject the donor organ as foreign, pig kidneys for transplantation are grown specially and "humanized" by the method of genetic adaptation. In the DNA chain, scientists find and “turn off” four exclusively pig genes (GTKO, CMAH, B4GALNT2, GHR), after which they supplement it with six human genes (CD46, CD55, CD47, THBD, PROCR, HMOX1).

Although so far this case is isolated, it gives hope to tens of thousands of patients suffering from chronic kidney disease and in need of transplantation. Demand for donor organs around the world greatly exceeds supply. According to statistics, in the United States every year 37,000 patients need a kidney transplant, but only 25,000 have time to wait for donor organs: out of every five patients waiting for a transplant, two die within five years after diagnosis, without waiting for a transplant.

Strictly speaking, this is not the first human pig kidney transplant that can be called successful. Over the past couple of years, similar attempts have been made at least twice. However, only this time, the doctors managed to ensure that the donor organ also worked perfectly normally, performing all its functions, the main of which is blood filtration and purification of the body from harmful waste products (primarily creatinine).

 

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