Xenotransplantation comes of age
Published in Xenotransplantation.
eGenesis publishes key long-term survival data on kidney xenotransplantation, readies for human trials as early as next year.
A recent publication in Nature has increased hopes that xenotransplantation – transplanting organs from an animal source into a human recipient – may soon enter human trials. US biotech eGenesis disclosed long-term survival data from a proof-of-concept study, demonstrating the viability of genetically engineered donor kidneys from pigs transplanted into monkeys.
The study’s findings constitute the largest and most comprehensive preclinical dataset published in a domain where recipient survival has typically been limited to weeks or months. Notably, one recipient survived for more than two years (758 days), adding further weight to calls for human clinical trials of the technology.
My take on this: In the United States alone, more than 100,000 people are on organ transplantation waitlists, with fewer than 40% ultimately receiving a potentially life-saving organ. Furthermore, the existing organ transplantation paradigm faces challenges due to organ incompatibility and variable donor organ quality.
Xenotransplantation offers hope to thousands of people worldwide, but the field must overcome significant challenges before it can deliver on its promise. With this latest development in terms of long-term survival, eGenesis appears to be closing in on the clinic. We caught up with the company’s CEO, Dr Michael Curtis, to find out more.
The major focus of eGenesis’s work is to address the primary risks associated with cross-species transplantation, namely: acute rejection, recipient compatibility, and transmission of viral infection from donor to host.
The genetically engineered porcine donor kidneys used by eGenesis in the Nature study underwent several key modifications, including knocking out three genes responsible for the production of antigens associated with hyperacute rejection. The company also inserted seven human transgenes responsible for regulating various pathways known to modulate rejection, and deactivated retroviruses present in the porcine genome.