XENOTRANSPLANTATION: The Benefits and Risks of Special Organ Transplantation
Published in Xenotransplantation.
1. Human organ transplantation faces a significant challenge because the need for this procedure far exceeds the availability of donor organs. Each year fewer than half the people on transplant waiting lists receive organ transplants. Approximately 10 people die each day waiting for organs to become available. Even if all potential donors elect to donate, the supply of human organ donations will continue to fall short of the need.
2. One solution doctors along with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are investigating to end this acute shortage is “xenotransplantation,” or the process of transplanting cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.
3. Rejection, in which the recipient’s body attacks the new organ like an infection, is the greatest practical obstacle to xenotransplantation. The breeding of transgenic pigs as well as new cloning techniques may be used to reduce the risk of organ rejection.
4. In August 1999, the results of a study were announced that found no evidence of infection among 160 people who had previously received medical treatment with living pig tissue. A number of patients in the study did show evidence of circulating pig cells, but no evidence of infection, potentially demonstrating that pig tissue can survive long-term in the human body with no ill effects.