eGenesis Harnesses CRISPR to Engineer Pigs with Human Genes for Increased Organ Availability

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“But recent advances in cloning and gene editing, along with better understanding of infection control, have led a handful of institutions to breakthroughs — key steps that could allow the US Food and Drug Administration, one day soon, to sign off on a clinical trial.

Researchers have transplanted genetically modified pig kidneys and hearts into people who were brain-dead to test whether they work in humans. This month, doctors showed that a pig liver could filter blood when attached to a recently deceased person. Just last week, doctors said they had identified the mix of immunosuppressants needed to prevent pig kidneys from being rejected by human bodies.

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And twice, surgeons have transplanted genetically modified hearts into living people: willing test subjects who understood that their deaths were imminent and that no transplant was likely to save them but that xenotransplantation could save many lives in the future.

Although Larry Faucette was too sick for a human heart transplant, University of Maryland doctors said he seemed physically strong enough for a genetically modified pig heart. They sent him to a string of experts: the surgeons who further explained the procedure, a medical ethicist, social workers and a psychologist.

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After the FDA signed off on the procedure through its “compassionate use” program in September, he became the recipient of a pig heart modified to work in a human.”

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