Chinese researchers transplant genetically modified pig liver into human body

(Xinhua) 10:36, March 22, 2024

XI'AN, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers successfully transplanted a genetically modified pig liver into a brain-dead person, where it functioned for 10 days, in a milestone case for the transplantation of animal organs into humans.

The study terminated on Wednesday according to the wishes of the recipient's family. Before that, the transplanted liver had been functioning for 10 days.

The transplant was conducted by Dou Kefeng, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a team led by Tao Kaishan, a doctor with Xijing Hospital of the Air Force Medical University, in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The recipient of the transplant was a patient with severe brain injury who was certified as brain dead in three evaluations. The family of the patient agreed to participate in the research to contribute to medical advancement.

The surgical plan was deliberated and approved by various academic and ethics committees, and strictly carried out in accordance with relevant national regulations.

"This is the first time in the medical field that a genetically modified pig liver has been transplanted into a human body," said Dou. "We observed that the liver functioned well in the human body."

He noted that the research is a significant breakthrough in the field of xenotransplantation, providing a theoretical basis and practical experience for future clinical applications.

David Cooper, a xenotransplant immunologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, congratulated Dou's team on the major achievement. The Chinese study will offer important insights into whether pig-liver transplants can keep people alive, even just for a few days, said Cooper.

Dou noted that research and application of xenogeneic liver transplantation are particularly important, given the vast population of liver disease patients and the severe shortages of organs for transplantation.

"In the future, with continuous technological advancement, xenogeneic liver transplantation is expected to bring great benefits to more patients and become an effective approach to solving the problem of organ shortage for transplantation," said Dou.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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