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Monkey Transplanted with Liver of Pig Survives for 18 Days in China, Could Humans be Next?

Image for representation | Image credit: Reuters

Image for representation | Image credit: Reuters

The breakthrough can mean a step in the direction of animal-human transplants that could benefit millions of patients waiting for organ transplants.

In what is being seen as a breakthrough for medical science, a monkey has been transplanted with the liver of a pig in China and managed to survive for 18 days.

Earlier in the month, a team of surgeons from a hospital in Xi'an in North-Western China performed organ transplant surgeries on three rhesus macaques.

Doctors at Xijing Hospital, which is affiliated to Xi'an's Air Force Medical University, extracted three organs including a liver, a heart, and a kidney, were extracted from a pig and transplanted into the monkeys, each getting one organ.

Neither the monkey with the kidney transplant nor the one with the heart transplant survived. The primate with the new liver, however, has managed to survive for over two weeks, giving researchers hope, Xinhua news reported.

As per the doctors, the survival of the monkey could indicate the possibility of such transplants in humans.

The experiment was conducted using a gene-editing technique known as porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV). The experiment comes after China developed two baby "chimera piglets" with DNA from monkeys.

The efforts might help scientists find replacements for human organ transplants by growing human organs inside genetically controlled animals. Transplanting animal organs into human bodies, also known as Xenotransplantation, is an exciting new trend in bioengineering and pigs are often seen as the best source for such organ transplants owing to their similarity to humans in shape and size.

The trial is being seen as a success since monkeys also share 94 percent of human DNA, making this trial one of the closes anyone has come to a human-animal organ transplant. This might mean a boon for millions of people waiting for organ transplants across the world.