PerspectiveGenetics

Advances in organ transplant from pigs

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Science  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1238-1239
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6334

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Summary

Xenotransplantation, where tissue from one species is transplanted into a different species, is currently under development to help alleviate the increasing shortage of human tissues and organs for transplantation to treat organ failure. For several reasons, which include the size and physiology of the organs, the ease of genetic modification and cloning, and the large number of progeny and short reproduction cycle, pigs are the animals of choice for organ transplant in humans. Three major problems need to be solved before xenotransplantation becomes a clinical reality: immunological rejection, physiological incompatibility, and the risk of transmission of porcine microorganisms that are able to induce a disease (zoonosis) in the human recipient. On page 1303 of this issue, Niu et al. (1) demonstrate how to increase the safety of xenotransplantation.