Instead of breeding a pig for food, in future we could breed it to save lives. Scientists have been trying to develop GM pigs that could be used to solve the shortage of organs for transplant patients.
Biotech company Revivicor is genetically engineering pigs so that their organs might work in people. Researchers believe that young pigs are an ideal animal for transplants because their organs are the right size. The experiments used organs from pigs “humanized” with the addition of as many as five human genes, a strategy designed to stop organ rejection.
Heart and kidney transplants from animals to humans might become a reality: scientists have announced that they succeeded in keeping a pig heart alive in a baboon for 945 days. They were also able to break the record of kidney transplant between these species, which lasted for 136 days.
The results, illustrated in the journal Xenotransplantation, bring us one step closer to pig-to-human transplant. The research goal is to create “an unlimited supply of transplantable organs” and eventually carry out the first successful pig-to-human lung transplant.