What is xenotransplantation?

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May 15, 2024

What is xenotransplantation?

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

The doctors say that we have no indication that it (Richard “Rick” Slayman’s death) was the result of his recent transplant.

What is xenotransplantation?

  • According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Xenotransplantation is any procedure that involves the transplantation, implantation or infusion into a human recipient of either (a) live cells, tissues, or organs from a nonhuman animal source, or (b) human body fluids, cells, tissues or organs that have had ex vivo contact with live nonhuman animal cells, tissues or organs.”
  • Essentially, it is the use of animal cells and organs to heal humans. Xenotransplantation involving the heart was first tried in humans in the 1980s. The need for such a procedure was felt because of the significant gap between the number of transplantations needed by patients and the availability of donor organs.

How does xenotransplantation happen?

  • The animal organ selected has to undergo genetic modifications, so that the human body does not reject it.


  • A report from the Harvard Medical School, whose physicians were involved in Slayman’s operation, said 69 genomic edits were made to the pig kidney in his case.
  • The gene editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 was employed to “Remove certain pig genes that produce sugars with antibodies our immune systems react to” and “Add certain human genes to improve the kidney’s compatibility with humans.”

Why are pigs 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.




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What is xenotransplantation? | Vaid ICS Institute