January 24, 2024

Human Blood in Pig Liver Experiment Offers Transplant Possibilities

The advances in medical science have seen several decades of incredible progress, but the ability to replicate organs and their function is still the stuff of science fiction. Now, doctors from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) have discovered a new solution that offers hope for those waiting on an organ transplant.

A team of scientists from UPenn’s Perelman School of Medicine conducted a successful perfusion experiment involving using human blood from a deceased patient and a pig’s liver.

The idea is to use the animal-to-human technique as a “bridge” for those in a terminal state, supporting failing organs and providing better odds of survival while waiting for a suitable donor to become available.

Such methods, called xenotransplants, have been a dead-end due to the incompatibility of human and animal tissues, but Dr Abraham Shaked’s team utilised a pig liver genetically modified to be more human-like.

“The success of the first part of our study is significant for those facing liver failure, offering a glimpse into a future where innovative solutions can bring hope to patients who might otherwise be destined to die while waiting for a transplant,” Dr Shaked said in a statement released last Thursday, 18 January.

The pioneering experiment forms part of a series of tests that will eventually include hearts and other possible organs.

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