It must, however, be guaranteed that no pathogenic agents from animals are transmitted to the human body. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have now been able to prove that although porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) can penetrate human blood cells under certain circumstances, they cannot replicate at these sites.
TEM-Photo: Porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV). Green: infected cell cytoplasma; pink: so-called clathrin-coated pit; yellow: virus particle; red: virus core; blue: genetic material of the virus
Source: Dr. Klaus Boller, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut
In connection with screening methods, the aim is to minimize the risk of transmission of PERV by the xenotransplant. The journal Xenotransplantation reports on the results of these research activities in its latest online edition.
Patients often have to face long waiting periods before they can receive an organ suitable for transplantation. This has not only been a problem since the transplantation scandal of last year. Pigs have been the subject of research as a possible organ donor for a long time. First clinical trials using insulin producing cells of the porcine pancreas in patients with type-1 diabetes are already underway in New Zealand and Argentina. Transplantations of whole animal organs such as porcine hearts or kidneys are also thinkable as a medium-term solution and are studied extensively. However, a transplantation of organs from other species to humans presents the risk that endogenous retroviruses, which form an integral part of the genome of the donor animals, will be transmitted in the form of replication-competent virus particles thus causing infections. Porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) present in pigs are closely related to retroviruses, which can cause leukaemia in mice, cats, or gibbons. It is therefore assumed that PERV can also cause such diseases after transmission to humans.
A research team of Professor Ralf R. Tönjes, head of the section "Non-vital Tissue Preparations, Xenogeneic Cell Therapeutics" of the Division "Medical Biotechnology" at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut has investigated whether PERV can really infect human blood cells . Although the investigators at the PEI performed their experiments in vitro, they created conditions as close as possible to the situation of a xenotransplantation to study the real risk of a PERV infection. The porcine cells were co-cultured with human lymphocytes over a period of one month – the human cells and the animal cells were separated from each other only by a membrane permeable for viruses. The researchers established that the PERV could pass the membrane and penetrate the human lymphocytes to a lesser extent. The viral DNA was then identified in these lymphocytes. However, this DNA was not functional, i.e. the genetic information could not be used by the cells to produce new intact virus particles. Productive infection involving the development of new infectious PERV was indeed not observed.
Besides, before xenotransplantations, safety experts have expressed that they require a two-step analysis of the transplant for transmissible PERV involving genetic screening and an assay with a highly sensitive human cell line. This test must be able to show that no functional PERV is present.
"Being a federal institute responsible for the authorisation of clinical trials on xenogeneic cell therapeutics, we require steps from the manufacturers and users which keep the risk of transmission of pathogenic agents during xenotransplantations to a minimum. Our experiments, which use the best screening methods currently available, indicate that no infectivity to human blood cells by PERV causing a disease would occur during xenotransplantations", as Professor Tönjes explained when discussing the research results. Even if transmission of PERV occurred, human blood cells are equipped with cellular protective mechanisms against these viruses and would counteract them in the various phases of the replication cycle .
Professor Tönjes and his co-workers are part of the special research group (Sonderforschungsbereich, SFB /Transregio 127) "Biologie der xenogenen Zell- und Organtransplantation – vom Labor in die Klinik" (Biology of xenogeneic cell, tissue and organ transplantation – from bench to bedside) with 16 sub-groups in Berlin, Dresden, Hannover, Langen and München. This research group is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation).Original publication:
Xenotransplantation Jan 21 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1111/xen.12081Literature:
 Denner J, Tönjes RR. Infection Barriers to Successful Xenotransplantation Focusing on Porcine Endogenous Retroviruses. Clinical Microbiology Reviews 2012;25(2):318-343
The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, in Langen near Frankfurt/Main is a senior federal authority reporting to the Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG). It is responsible for the research, assessment, and marketing authorisation of biomedicines for human use and veterinary vaccines. Its remit also includes the authorisation of clinical trials and pharmacovigilance, i.e. recording and evaluation of potential adverse effects.
Other duties of the institute include official batch control, scientific advice and inspections. In-house experimental research in the field of biomedicines and life science form an indispensable basis for the varied and many tasks performed at the institute.
The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, with its roughly 800 members of staff, also has advisory functions nationally (federal government, federal states (Länder)), and internationally (World Health Organisation, European Medicines Agency, European Commission, Council of Europe etc.).
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/xen.12081/abstract Original Publication, Abstracthttp://www.pei.de/EN/information/journalists-press/press-releases/2014/01-xenotransplantation-no-replication-porcine-endogenous-retroviruses.html
Press Release on the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut Website
Dr. Susanne Stöcker | idw
Flavins keep a handy helper in their pocket
25.04.2018 | University of Freiburg
Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Information Technology