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Drug Study Brings Animal-To-Human Organ Transplants A Step Closer, Scientists Say

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Scientists are making progress in understanding how to make the human body receptive to organ donation from other species, particularly genetically modified pig organs.

This could help alleviate the ongoing shortage of organs for transplantation.

A recent study transplanted genetically modified pig kidneys into three brain-dead patients, showing promise in using FDA-approved drugs for immune suppression.

“When we move this into the living, the scientist in me thinks the best way to do this is that we should change only one thing at a time, and so in this case, the only thing that we will have to change and have to be different is the organ source,” study author Dr. Jayme Locke said.

“Doing this using medications that transplanters across the globe know how to use, when you start thinking about scaling this up and being able to offer this to as many people as possible, that’s also very appealing,” she added.

“It just decreases the complexity of what you’re trying to do,” Locke said.

The research, though limited to three patients, is seen as a significant step toward potential human trials.

Experts emphasized the critical need for organs and see xenotransplantation as a potentially revolutionary solution.

“There’s a critical donor organ shortage in the United States and worldwide, and xenotransplantation really has the potential to be a revolutionary permanent solution to the problem,” Emory Transplant Center scientific director Dr. Mandy Ford said.

“Using this FDA-approved regimen, I think, gets us closer to the clinical reality of being able to start clinical trials and one step closer to making xenotransplantation a clinical reality,” Ford added.

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