This US lab is bioengineering pig livers to one day transplant them into humans amid organ shortages

This US lab is bioengineering pig livers to one day transplant them into humans amid organ shortages

This US lab is bioengineering pig livers to one day transplant them into humans amid organ shortages

Scientists at a US lab are hard at work on an ambitious and admittedly unusual mission: engineering pig livers in the hope that one day transplant them in human bodies.

Miromatrix, a Minnesota-based company, plans to begin testing its bioengineered livers in patients in 2023.

“To the average person, this may sound like science fiction, but I can tell you that even to the average transplant surgeon, or perhaps the not-so-average transplant surgeon, it still sounds a bit like science fiction,” says Dr. Sander. . Florman, chief of transplants at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

“But this is an incredible moment, it’s a new era.”

Mount Sinai is one of several hospitals planning to participate in the first trials of modified livers.

Pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the first experiments will be performed outside of a patient’s body. The researchers would place a human-turned pig liver next to a hospital bed to temporarily filter the blood of someone whose own liver suddenly failed.

Making ‘human-like’ pig livers

Making pig livers compatible with human bodies involves scaffolding a liver using the animal’s organ.

First, the scientists dissolved the pig cells in the livers that powered the organ, leaving ghostly, semi-translucent scaffolds floating in large jars.

Because we removed all the cells from that pig organ, our bodies don’t see it as a pig organ.

To complete the transformation, they infuse those shells with human cells from donated livers that couldn’t be transplanted.

Those living cells move into the nooks and crannies of the scaffolding to restart the organ’s functions.

“Because we removed all the cells from that pig organ, our bodies don’t see it as a pig organ,” explains Jeff Ross, CEO of Miromatrix, who runs the lab.

Dr. Amit Tevar, a transplant surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who is not involved with Miromatrix, cautions that the planned out-of-body tests would only be an initial first step.

But if this novel approach works, “that’s something that, in the long term, will very likely contribute to the development of organs that we can use in humans.”

The liver assist trial would be key to finally trying a bioengineered organ transplant, probably a kidney, because a patient could still survive on dialysis if the operation fails.

Turning to animals for organs.

Currently, there are more than 105,000 people on the US waiting list for organ transplants.

“The number of organs that we have available will never be able to meet the demand,” Tevar said. “This is our frustration.”

That is why scientists have been looking at the animals as another organ source.

A man from Maryland lived two months after receiving the world’s first heart transplant from a genetically modified pig last January.

The FDA is now considering whether to allow more.”xenotransplantation” experiments with kidneys or hearts of gene-edited pigs.

However, organ bioengineering is different in that it does not require handling pigs, just leftover organs from slaughterhouses.

To learn more about this story, watch the video in the media player above.

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