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Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The US Food and Drug Administration is getting ready to allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A New York University team in October attached a genetically modified pig kidney to a brain-dead individual to find it did not trigger an immune reaction and could produce urine. Another team at the University of Alabama-Birmingham in January transplanted genetically modified pig kidneys into a brain-dead patient where they appeared viable. Also in January, a University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore team transplanted a genetically modified pig heart into a living heart failure patient, who died about two months later for reasons that are not yet clear.

According to the Journal, the three teams are interested in pursuing clinical trials and that an FDA panel met this week to discuss what regulatory requirements the agency might enact for such trials. It adds that a topic of discussion was the need to screen the donor pigs for viruses — the Maryland heart transplant patient was found to have a porcine virus, though whether that contributed to his death is unknown.