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Swiss medical weekly

Xenotransplantation: Where do we stand in 2016?


PMID 28322428

Abstract

Worldwide, there is a constant rise in the number of patients with end-stage organ failure in critical need for transplants, but the number of organs/cells available from deceased or living human donors is limited. Xenotransplantation using pig organs/tissues repre-sents a potential solution for this shortage; however, it has been hampered by a number of mainly immuno-logical hurdles. Remarkable progress was presented at the latest biennial (13th) international congress of the International Xenotransplantation Association, November 2015 in Melbourne, Australia, and the American Transplant Congress, May 2016 in Boston, USA. Most importantly, the survival records of pig organ xenografts in nonhuman primate models have strikingly improved with the use of multitransgenic pigs. Moreover, no safety issues were encountered in clinical trials with porcine islets, and the removal of porcine endogenous retroviruses from the genome of a pig cell line by the CRISPR/Cas9 technology offers the perspective to overcome the perceived potential risk of xenozoonosis in the near future. For all these reasons, interest in xenotransplantation has been boosted. This review summarises the current status of xenotransplantation research, including Swiss contri-butions as well as regulatory and safety aspects in the light of upcoming clinical trials.