The major stumbling block, says Dr Muhammad Mohiuddin (US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) in a paper in PLoS Medicine, is that the immune system in the animal receiving the organ tends to reject the transplant.
Nevertheless, the recent development of genetically modified pigs that are more compatible with humans, "has reinstated hope for the success of xenotransplantation," he says.
In his paper, Dr Mohiuddin discusses the reasons why xenotransplantation offers greater potential than other techniques for replacing diseases organs.
For example, mechanical devices that are aimed at replacing the function of an organ (like ventricular devices for treating heart failure) have a tendency to cause blood clots and are not yet proven suitable for replacing transplantation. And while the idea of growing organs in culture dishes has fascinated scientists for years, he says, there have been no major success stories yet.
In contrast, Dr Mohiuddin believes that there have been some promising reports that suggest that xenotransplantation may eventually benefit humans.
For example, insulin-producing cells (islets) from pigs were transplanted into monkeys with diabetes and this led to complete reversal of diabetes for over 100 days. But such research is still a long way off from being relevant to humans, says the author. For example, in the pig-to-monkey studies, very large doses of drugs called "immunosuppresants" were needed to stop the monkeys' immune system from rejecting the pig islet cells—such doses would be unacceptable in humans.
In addition to immune rejection, another concern about xenotransplantation is the risk of transmitting viruses and other pathogens from one species to another.
"Whether the risk of transmission of these pathogens will increase with xenotransplantation is not yet known," says the author. "But the risk can be anticipated, and thus prepared for. A long-term careful follow-up of transplanted patients will be required to monitor for infection by latent viruses and other pathogens. A timely intervention would be important to treat the infection and control its spread to other individuals."
Citation: Mohiuddin MM (2007) Clinical xenotransplantation of organs: Why aren’t we there yet? PLoS Med 4(3): e75.
Andrew Hyde | alfa
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences