Medical Science is developing at a very fast pace. Since time immemorial,availability of organ donors has always been a constant problem across the world. But now in a recent study conducted, scientists are claiming that a Pig’s heart may also save human lives. Isn’t that amazing?
Scientists said that they have kept a pig’s heart alive in a baboon(African and Arabian old world monkeys) for more than two years. The pig’s heart has been beating away in the body of the baboon for 945 days and now the good news is that it could be the key to saving human lives with animal parts, as well.
- Cross-species transplantation provokes a powerful immune reaction, leading to rejection of the organ by the host.But a US- German team uses a combination of gene modification and immune- suppressing drugs.
- The transplanted heart beat like a normal heart but the baboon’s own heart continues the function of pumping blood- a known method of studying organ rejection.
- The medium survival time is 298 days while the maximum survival is 945 days-, just over 2 and a half years.
- This exceeds previous records by the same group of researchers of 180 and 500 days, respectively.
“It is very significant because it brings us one step closer to using these organs in humans”,co- author Muhammad Mohiouddin, from the national heart , Lung and blood institute in Maryland, told the AFP News agency.
Xenotransplantation: Could be used to support Human Lives
The process of transplantation between different species. This can potentially save thousands of human lives each year,that are lost due to acute shortage of human organs for transplantation. In the current experiment, the pig’s heart just hangs out in a Baboon’s belly.But making that pig heart shoulder all the Baboon’s cardiovascular functioning is a hell of a lot more demanding.
Given their genetic proximity to humans, primates are initially thought to be the best donor candidates. But there is no large source of captive bred aps- which take long to grow and mature , and some like chimpanzees are endangered. In addition to this, their genetic closeness also poses a much higher danger of inter-species disease transmission,as well as ethical questions.
Therefore, pigs have since emerged as better donors.Their hearts are anatomically similar to human- beings, pose a lower risk in terms of disease transmission as well as, they mature fast.
“In our opinion, this regimen appears potentially safe for human application, basically for the patients suffering from the end– stage organ failure and who might be the candidates for initial trials for xenotransplantation”,wrote the study authors.
Why we need this:
Currently, the human state of donation is bleak. For every cardiac patient, there are already 50 or more people on the waiting list from that same donor. Also, dead organs, aren’t known for making it across the country and staying fresh enough to use.