On the 7th of January 2022 the first genetically modified pigs heart was successfully transplanted into a human at the University of Maryland Medical Center!
This ground breaking procedure marks the first time that a pig organ has been transplanted into a human who has a chance to survive and recover. In 2021, surgeons at New York University transplanted kidneys from the same line of genetically modified pigs into two legally dead people with no discernible brain function. The organs were not rejected, and functioned normally while the deceased recipients were sustained on ventilators.
Xenotransplantation has seen significant advances in recent years with the advent of CRISPR–Cas9 genome editing, which has made it easier to create tissues that are less susceptible to immune rejection.
This has incredible implications to many of the devastating conditions resulting from organ failure, and will dramatically alter the quality of life for millions of patients suffering from these chronic conditions (heart, kidney and liver failure just to name a few)!
Reardon S. First pig-to-human heart transplant: what can scientists learn? Nature 601, 305-306 (2022).
Image ref: New York Times