A staggering 4,500 "good candidates" die every year waiting for a kidney transplant. The question for those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) on the Kidney Transplant Waiting List now becomes, "Would you accept a kidney from a 'real' Pig?" Researchers at the University of Florida are currently using a pig kidney to build a human version by injecting it with stem cells grown from a person in need of a Kidney Transplant. The cells take over the pig kidney which allows it to be transplanted into a human.
If successful, a pig Kidney Transplant could reduce the average wait time for a cadaver Kidney Transplant from a minimum of approximately 3 years (1,121 days), to a matter of months. These modified pig kidneys would not only save thousands of lives every year, but because the kidney would contain the patient’s own cells it would drastically reduce the need for anti-rejection drugs which cause harsh side effects.
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Dr. Edward Ross, a Nephrologist and professor at UF Health said, “The idea was to use a natural architecture, something we could never craft synthetically.” First, they take a kidney failure patient’s skin cells and turn them back
to stem cells by adding certain chemicals and growth factors. Then researchers remove and wash all of the stem cells out of a pig kidney (decellularization). After pumping in just the right amount of detergent to clean out the swine cells, the organ becomes something like a building in which the human cells can grow (scaffold).
The research team has expressed that they are very "optimistic" for the effective use of pig kidneys to solve the growing deficit of Transplantable Kidneys. In fact, six other research teams are working on similar studies around the country. For example, Harvard University experimented with growing mature cells in rodent scaffolds. KidneyBuzz.com believes that people in the CKD Community should be excited about this breakthrough which is moving us another huge step closer to better combat and even eliminate this disease.
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Burton, Rebecca. "Pig Kidneys for Transplantation Could Help Thousands of Patients with Kidney Failure."Http://news.ufl.edu/. University of Florida