Xenotransplant

Breakthrough study proves genetically modified pig kidneys can be transplanted into a human

UAB's Xenotransplant team.

Researchers in UAB’s Heersink School of Medicine successfully transplanted two genetically modified pig kidneys inside the abdomen of a brain-dead human individual after removing the native kidneys; the transplanted kidneys filtered blood, produced urine and, importantly, did not reject.

Stories about the project

Xenotransplant is defined as transplanting an animal organ or product into a human to cure disease. Utilizing genetically modified pig kidneys could provide an increased supply for those needing a kidney transplant.

Why do we need xenotransplantation?

“We have this amazing therapy called kidney transplantation that works 95 to 98 percent of the time, and yet there are only about 25,000 kidneys to go around in the U.S. every year, but we have 800,000 people who need them. The hardest part is seeing patients in clinic and wait-listing them knowing they might actually die before I ever get an organ-offer to transplant them.

So the opportunity to have an organ that is waiting there for the person who needs it is just overwhelming to think about. I feel very privileged to be just a tiny part of a really big puzzle that people have been working on for many years.”

- Dr. Jayme Locke, Director, Division of Transplantation,
Heersink School of Medicine

Read more about UAB’s breakthrough

  • Pig kidneys to humans: next steps for the UAB xenotransplantation program

    Pig kidneys to humans: next steps for the UAB xenotransplantation program

    UAB physicians are working on the next steps to begin compassionate or emergency use of the pig kidneys in living humans. Two major approvals will be required.
    What’s on the horizon for xenotransplantation?
    10043 views
  • UAB announces first clinical-grade transplant of gene-edited pig kidneys into brain-dead human

    UAB announces first clinical-grade transplant of gene-edited pig kidneys into brain-dead human

    In the study published in the American Journal of Transplantation, UAB researchers tested the first human preclinical model for transplanting genetically modified pig kidneys into humans.
    Why did UAB publish this study?
    29352 views
  • Selfless act paves the way for more people to receive lifesaving organs

    Selfless act paves the way for more people to receive lifesaving organs

    Jim Parsons’ legacy paves the way for thousands to potentially receive lifesaving organs through UAB’s xenotransplantation program.
    The Parsons family and their gift
    11492 views
  • The 10-gene pig and other medical science advances enabled UAB’s transplant of a pig kidney into a brain-dead human recipient

    The 10-gene pig and other medical science advances enabled UAB’s transplant of a pig kidney into a brain-dead human recipient

    The human preclinical model at UAB provides important knowledge before a Phase I clinical trial can begin for living human recipients. Decades of work by researchers across the world preceded UAB’s first clinical-grade pig kidney xenotransplant.
    The science behind the study
    11166 views

Photos

  • Locke and xeno team

    Dr. Jayme Locke and the UAB xeno transplant team.

  • Xeno team in surgery

    The team preparing the porcine kidneys for transplantation into the brain-dead recipient.

  • Locke with kidney and xeno transplant teams

    Dr. Jayme Locke with UAB's kidney transplant and xeno transplant teams.

  • Jim Parsons on motorcycle

    Jim Parsons enjoying his passion for motorcycles in 2003.

  • Jim Parsons with children at graduation

    Jim with his three children, Cole, David and Ally, celebrating Ally’s graduation from high school.

  • Jim Parsons in Colorado

    Jim at the top of American flag mountain in Colorado.

    Pointing the way forward: This study was conducted to meet the same standards as a Phase I clinical trial, making it mirror — as much as possible — every step of a normal transplant between humans.

    First peer-reviewed, published study on a clinical-grade genetically modified pig kidney xenotransplant in a human, in which native kidneys were removed from the human recipient and pig kidneys were transplanted inside the body.

    Prior to surgery, the team validated a UAB-developed compatibility test to determine that the genetically modified pig kidney was a good tissue match for the human recipient.

    The pig kidneys were placed in the same anatomic locations used for human donor kidneys, with the same attachments to the renal artery, renal vein and to the ureter that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.

    Learn more about the process

    Pig-to-human kidney transplant 2D
    The need for kidneys: Patients on waiting lists vs. transplants done
    Pigs are promising organ donors for humans
    The 10-gene edited pig
    UAB researchers have achieved several world's firsts with this pig to human transplant
    More people are waiting for kidneys than any other organ
    Answering critical questions
    First transplant of genetically modified kidneys from a pig into a human

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