In DepthBiomedicine

Xenotransplant advances may prompt human trials

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Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1338
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6358.1338

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The scarcity of lifesaving transplants has long raised hopes for substitute organs from pigs, which have a similar anatomy to humans. But decades of scientific setbacks have kept the approach, called xenotransplantation, out of the clinic. Exhilarated by recent results with pig organs in monkeys, some researchers who gathered at a meeting of the International Xenotransplantation Association in Baltimore, Maryland, last week are now eyeing human testing. The struggle to overcome host immune response and fears that organs could transmit pig viruses to humans has long made potential investors wary of the field. But researchers now say better immunosuppressant drug regimens and a wealth of new gene-edited pig varieties have changed the equation.