Pig kidney to the rescue.
PICS Courtesy: Freeimages.com
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Pigs are likely to be of much use to mankind. It is strange but true. If the current research materializes kidney transplants will become really fast and quite routine.
The number of people whose kidneys fail is quite high. Furthermore, the percentage of people with kidney failure dying due to the ailment is quite high.
Even before the search for a replacement kidney materializes, the patient undergoes a harrowing time due to dialysis for a prolonged period. At present, it takes anywhere between one year to three years to find the right kidney.
Consequently, in the United States along, there are more than 1, 00,000 patients awaiting kidney replacement. Therefore, nearly 5000 patients perish while waiting for a replacement of their defunct kidney.
But, the researchers have come up with a likely solution to this vexed problem. The solution is the best thing that could have happened to those requiring kidney transplants.
Most noteworthy is the fact that you only have to get an animal to provide the kidney. The main problem arises when the body rejects the kidney from the donor.
The history of borrowing organs from animals goes back a long way and resorted to in emergency only. Doctors conducted a xenotransplant in 1984 with a baby girl getting the heart of a baboon. The effort to save her life taken due to extreme emergency did not save the girl.
She died after about three weeks.
The matching of an alien organ in your body results mostly in its rejection. Thus, the effort is always to find an organ that matches your body’s requirements. If it matches, the organ ensures your long life.
That is why blood types and tissue sciences come into play whenever a transplant takes place. The immune systems automatically set up a defensive mechanism resulting in rejection of organs. That is because the body recognizes foreign parts inserted into your system.
The rejection by the body of the transplanted organs leads to the death of the host. The makeup of the proteins also needs to be similar to yours.
Moreover, maintaining control over the immune system prevents an attack on the new organs. Death occurs when the attack is successful.
That is what happened in the case of the baby who got the heart of a baboon. She died due to her immune system attacking the inserted heart of the baboon.
The cellular compatibility is also important while transplanting organs. But, much research into various aspects provided insightful results over the years.
Especially, the direction of research got a proper direction when sciences like cloning came into the picture. The idea is to make the cellular structure of the animal organs resemble the human tissues so that acceptance is higher.
Use of cloning techniques also promoted the knowledge of scientists in the type of animals to choose. Whereas, we thought to be closest, research ruled out their organs.
However, deeper probing brought another species as the best option for organ transplant.
Furthermore, the identification of its proteins led to scientists removing those that faced rejection and consequent failure of the procedure.
The fact is that the kidneys of pigs are quite similar in cellular structure to that of a human being. Scientists aver that the similarity is so high that compatibility is not a big issue while using a pig’s kidney.
The research in this aspect is at a very advanced state and it seems to be on the threshold of implementation. Dr. Joseph Tector, a leading transplant Surgeon is quite close to making this fact a reality.
According to Louis M. Profeta MD, the first insertion of a pig’s kidney might materialize in 2017.
Thus, this advanced research may prevent the 5000 deaths that occur every year in the United States alone. In other words, the task of utilizing non-human species is likely to revolutionize the task of kidney transplants.
This will also change the way that we look at pigs and give the farming of this gentle animal a boost.
Moreover, the insights gained through this experimentation might extend to the transplant of other organs like the liver, heart etc.
The easy availability of this animal is a very advantageous fact.
The prediction is that this transplant will work this time around.
In conclusion, knowledgeable sources insist that we are possibly on the threshold of the most impacting discovery of recent times.
Adapted with inputs from Louis M. Profeta MD
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Thursday, December 29, 2016
Written for: Lars-Magnus Carlsson