by Heidi Klessig, M.D.
Doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the NYU Langone Transplant Institute in New York City reported successfully implanting genetically modified pig kidneys into two “brain dead” men this month. The New York patient, a 57-year-old man, has demonstrated continuous kidney function for over a month, the longest time that a gene-edited pig kidney has functioned successfully in a human. The team plans to observe the patient’s kidney functioning until mid-September, during which time he is being provided with cardiopulmonary support in a critical care setting.
In Alabama, a 52-year-old man with both “brain death” and renal failure underwent removal of his native kidneys and was implanted with a pig kidney that had received ten genetic modifications. In contrast to last year’s results (in which the xenograft kidney placed into the “brain dead” person failed to function properly), Dr. Jayme E. Locke and her team reported that this time, the xenograft kidney functioned well for the full seven-day study period, which included daily kidney biopsies.