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From Pigs to Monkeys

A start-up founded by Harvard Medical School's George Church is testing organs from genetically modified pigs in monkeys, Technology Review reports, noting that it has been slower going than Church had anticipated.

The firm eGenesis, plans to eventually have pig organs that are modified so that they can be used for organ transplants into people without rejection. Tech Review says this could address the shortage of organs for transplantations, noting that there are some 100,000 people waiting on transplant lists.

In 2017, Church had predicted that edited pig organs could be transplanted into people in as little as one or two years “I was wrong,” he now tells Tech Review.

That year, eGenesis had announced that it was able to deactivate retroviruses found in the porcine genome and that it was working on developing piglets that lack carbohydrates that trigger human immune system responses.

As Tech Review reports, the firm is testing the organs in large animals, a necessary safety step before they can be considered for testing in humans. It notes that another firm, Revivicor, is also working on developing genetically engineer pig organs for transplantation.