– GM pigs could provide human organs ‘by 2013’ (Telegraph, Oct. 21, 2011):
Organs grown in genetically modified pigs could be transplanted into humans in as little as two years’ time, scientists believe.
A persistent shortage of human organs has led experts to investigate methods of using pigs created with human genes, so that body parts grown in them can be harvested for use in patients without their immune systems rejecting them.
Now scientists say that a trial transplanting pigs’ corneas into humans with eye problems could begin by 2013.
Writing in today’s edition of The Lancet, the Pittsburgh University team predict: “With new genetically modified pigs becoming available that are likely to improve the outcome of cellular and corneal xenotransplantation further, we believe that clinical trials will be justified within the next two to three years.”
Transplantation of larger organs, such as lungs, hearts and kidneys, is likely to take longer, due to problems with clots forming as well as too much bleeding, animal studies show.
“These problems mean that the longest survival time for pig organs in non-human primates to date ranges from a few days for lungs to around six to eight months for hearts, and trials of solid organ transplants of this nature in humans are likely to be several years away,” they write.
But they add a one-off transplant may happen sooner.
“Life-saving transplants of a pig liver or heart could be justified as a bridge until a human organ becomes available.”