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posted by hubie on Monday March 25, @10:53PM   Printer-friendly

Doctors transplant gene-edited pig kidney into living human for 1st time - National:

Doctors in Boston have transplanted a pig kidney into a 62-year-old patient, the latest experiment in the quest to use animal organs in humans.

Massachusetts General Hospital said Thursday that it's the first time a genetically modified pig kidney has been transplanted into a living person. Previously, pig kidneys have been temporarily transplanted into brain-dead donors. Also, two men received heart transplants from pigs, although both died within months.

The patient, Richard "Rick" Slayman of Weymouth, Massachusetts, is recovering well from the surgery last Saturday and is expected to be discharged soon, doctors said Thursday.

Dr. Tatsuo Kawai, the transplant surgeon, said the team believes the pig kidney will work for at least two years. If it fails, Slayman could go back on dialysis, said kidney specialist Dr. Winfred Williams. He noted that unlike the pig heart recipients who were very sick, Slayman is "actually quite robust."

[...] Dr. Parsia Vagefi, chief of surgical transplantation at UT Southwestern Medical Center, called the announcement "a big step forward." But echoing the Boston doctors, he said studies involving more patients at different medical centers would be needed for it to become more commonly available.

The experiment marks the latest development in xenotransplantation, the term for efforts to try to heal human patients with cells, tissues, or organs from animals. For decades, it didn't work — the human immune system immediately destroyed foreign animal tissue. More recent attempts have involved pigs that have been modified so their organs are more humanlike — increasing hope that they might one day help fill a shortage of donated organs.

[...] Pigs have long been used in human medicine, including pig skin grafts and implantation of pig heart valves. But transplanting entire organs is much more complex than using highly processed tissue. The kidney implanted in Slayman was provided by eGenesis of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The pig was genetically edited to remove harmful pig genes and add certain human genes to improve its compatibility with humans.

[...] The Food and Drug Administration gave special permission for Slayman's transplant under "compassionate use" rules.

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First living patient to receive genetically modified pig kidney dead at 62, weeks after historic transplant:

The first living patient to receive a kidney from a genetically modified pig has died, two months after the groundbreaking transplant, his family and doctors announced Saturday.

Richard "Rick" Slayman, 62, was sent home in March, two weeks after undergoing the transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

"Their enormous efforts leading the xenotransplant gave our family seven more weeks with Rick, and our memories made during that time will remain in our minds and hearts," his family said in a statement of the practice of healing human patients with animal cells, tissues or organs.

Slayman, of Boston suburb Weymouth, said he underwent the daring procedure after suffering ongoing dialysis complications, which saw him hospitalized every two weeks.

"I saw it not only as a way to help me, but a way to provide hope for the thousands of people who need a transplant to survive," he said in a statement at the time.

"Rick accomplished that goal, and his hope and optimism will endure forever," his family said Saturday.

The transplant team at Mass General said it had "no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant."

[...] Before Slayman, pig kidneys had only been tested on brain-dead donors, while two men who received pig hearts both died within months.

The efforts often fail because the human immune system would destroy the foreign animal tissue, and recent procedures like Slayman's use organs from pigs that have been altered to be more human-like.

See: First Time Doctors Transplant Gene-edited Pig Kidney Into Living Human

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by looorg on Monday March 25, @11:38PM (13 children)

    by looorg (578) on Monday March 25, @11:38PM (#1350345)

    I sure hope it works and goes better then for the heart transplants subjects. From what I have been told by a friend while Dialysis can technically go on forever it's a real pain and a drag, three times per week for four hours plus setup time plus the surgery, complications, always feeling cold and the rest and ache etc. It's basically at least a halftime job for the patients.

    Not sure what the cost is to gene-edit a pig per patient every couple of years, but the current setup of machines, equipment and drugs isn't exactly cheap either.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Tuesday March 26, @12:17AM (1 child)

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 26, @12:17AM (#1350352) Journal

      Yeah, but what you've got to realize is that this requires heroic immune suppressors for the entire lifetime. It's a lot worse than just dialysis.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, @02:56PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 26, @02:56PM (#1350421)

        So more or less the same as one transplanted from another human then. Many pills per day.

    • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Tuesday March 26, @12:29AM (7 children)

      by aafcac (17646) on Tuesday March 26, @12:29AM (#1350354)

      It's somewhat unclear to me why dialysis isn't done at night while sleeping with fewer visits to a proper dialysis set up while awake..

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by looorg on Tuesday March 26, @12:52AM (6 children)

        by looorg (578) on Tuesday March 26, @12:52AM (#1350358)

        I asked the same question. You can if you have peritoneal dialysis. It's just not for every one. It's slow and a bit messy. If you have hemodialys they wouldn't want that as you have a couple inch long needles stuck in your arm hooked up to the machine. People move when they sleep. They would have to restrain the person so they couldn't move and fixate the arm, which isn't comfortable. Plus various complications with pressure drop so they need you somewhat awake to see how you are feeling. Not sure how you would feel after 6-8h considering a lot of people feel kinda bad after just 3-4h.

        • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Tuesday March 26, @01:16AM (1 child)

          by aafcac (17646) on Tuesday March 26, @01:16AM (#1350359)

          Presumably it's more the later bit about needing to monitor for complications as much as anything. A needle that could tolerate the relative motion of the skin, blood vessels and muscles is definitely something that could be engineered. This is especially the case now that there are robotics that can operate on the heart while adjusting for the motion of the heart as the surgeon operates.

          If I had to hazard a guess, if an outright cure for kidney disease isn't found, there will be a smart needle of some sort that can be hard when pushed in and flexible when pulled out a bit to allow for the process to be easier to do at night.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by krishnoid on Tuesday March 26, @03:19AM (3 children)

          by krishnoid (1156) on Tuesday March 26, @03:19AM (#1350375)

          I wonder if the chair could be configured so one could work a laptop job and attend Zoom meetings during the dialysis. That could overlay use of the time and maybe make the time go by faster.

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by looorg on Tuesday March 26, @08:51AM (2 children)

            by looorg (578) on Tuesday March 26, @08:51AM (#1350395)

            From what I observed they can. It's just working with one arm isn't very productive. While having Zoom meetings might be a thing it could be less then fun cause you might not have a room to yourself but be in a large hall with 3-5 other people, plus the nurses, then there are machines that beep and swirl and swoosh and so forth. Still a fair few people seem to be reading books, watching TV etc.

            It's probably just not a great place to have meetings at unless you are silent and just listening in with headphones.

            • (Score: 1) by lonehighway on Tuesday March 26, @03:38PM (1 child)

              by lonehighway (956) on Tuesday March 26, @03:38PM (#1350423)

              3 to 5 patients? My center had 36 stations and they stayed mostly full. Laptops were common but the noise from the machines would make Zooming impractical and your neighbors would complain about loud talking.

              • (Score: 2) by looorg on Tuesday March 26, @03:44PM

                by looorg (578) on Tuesday March 26, @03:44PM (#1350426)

                36! OK. I think that is more dialysis beds then the entire hospital have where I live. They have about 20ish stations spread out over two larger rooms, 4 and 6 beds, then there are a couple that have two beds and a couple that are singles. They run a morning and an afternoon shift. 36 beds and machines, I have seen barracks smaller then that. Being there would suck double.

    • (Score: 2) by sbgen on Tuesday March 26, @05:29PM

      by sbgen (1302) on Tuesday March 26, @05:29PM (#1350453)

      As for the cost of gene editing the pigs, first order o business is to make sure to find all the gene editing needed to avoid putting the patient on immunosuppresants for life. Based on the outcomes of previous two attempted transplants (not kidney) the field is still struggling with that part. If the editing is done at embryonic stage then the cost optimization wont be too difficult and wont be too individualistic.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, @01:57AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, @01:57AM (#1350515)
      To me trying the paths of artificial or stem cell kidneys would be better than the pig organ path.

      There's decent progress being made in the former. And I don't see any reasons why the former methods would be impossible.

      The pig organ path even if it "kinda" works would join those "archaic bad old days" treatments from a future perspective.
      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Friday March 29, @07:16AM

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 29, @07:16AM (#1350817) Journal

        The reason we use pig organs is because we can, they are far from perfect but they work. It is the best we have until something better comes along. Research is being carried out but until it results in a new source of substitute organs then we have to go with what we have.

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by darkfeline on Tuesday March 26, @01:55AM (2 children)

    by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday March 26, @01:55AM (#1350364) Homepage

    I don't think first time doctors should be doing anything as innovative as this. Maybe stick to some simpler things first?

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    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 26, @03:13AM

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 26, @03:13AM (#1350373)

      But also, I hear the person in question was a police officer, to maximize the odds of compatibility.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Tuesday March 26, @06:20PM

      by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday March 26, @06:20PM (#1350465) Homepage Journal

      Just what I was thinking. And more importantly, whose kidney did the pig end up with?

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