What is xenotransplantation?

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What is xenotransplantation? Blog Image


Recently, the first recipient of a modified pig kidney transplant passed away around two months after the surgery was carried out.

About Xenotransplantation:

  • It is any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation or infusion into a human recipient of either live cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source or human body fluids, cells, tissues or organs that have had ex vivo contact with live nonhuman animal cells, tissues or organs.
  • Xenotransplantation involving the heart was first tried in humans in the 1980s.
  • The animal organ selected has to undergo genetic modifications, so that the human body does not reject it.
  • Even after the operation, constant monitoring needs to be done to check the body’s response to the organ.
  • Why pig is often used for Xenotransplantation?
    • Pig heart valves have been used for replacing damaged valves in humans for over 50 years now.
    • The pig’s anatomical and physiological parameters are similar to that of humans, and the breeding of pigs in farms is widespread and cost-effective.
    • Also, many varieties of pig breeds are farmed, which provides an opportunity for the size of the harvested organs to be matched with the specific needs of the human recipient.
  • In January 2022, the first xenotransplantation of a genetically-modified pig heart was done. 

Q1: What is CRISPR?

It is short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which is a reference to the clustered and repetitive sequences of DNA found in bacteria, whose natural mechanism to fight some viral diseases is replicated in this gene-editing tool.

Source: First human recipient of pig kidney transplant dies: What is xenotransplantation, why pigs are used