There is hope for organ patients after researchers developed gene-edited piglets that could be reared for the sole purpose of harvesting organs. In the past, pig to human Transplants have been avoided by researchers due to the fear of activating dormant viral diseases that are found in Pig cells. This is despite the fact that Human and pig organs are similar in function and size. CRISPR Therapeutics, a London based company reported a breakthrough that will be able to cleanse the viral diseases found in Pigs. This will, in turn, enable the cleansed pigs to act as organ donors to Human's who are in need of hearts, livers and other organs.


The research findings which were published on Friday in the Journal Science said that the breakthrough was a combination of two achievements; gene-editing and cloning. Researchers used the gene-editing technology to remove the virus known as PERV that could be harmful to humans. Dr. George Church, who is a Geneticist at Harvard, and who led the experiments, said the first pig to Human transplants could occur in the next two years.

This is the first time researchers have successfully been able to inactivate PERV and open the way for animal-human transplants (xenotransplantation) while avoiding cross-species contamination. The researchers say that what remained was to monitor the cleansed piglets for the long-term, just to be sure.

Waiting list

In the U.S alone, there are currently 117,000 patients, including children on the organ transplant waiting list, with the number expected to grow. With this new research which shows great promise, the shortage of Human organs will be a thing of the past. It will also provide a sustainable source of human organs that will never deplete, thus saving thousands of lives.

Currently, pig heart valves have been routinely transplanted into human patients with great success.

Technology Potential

The gene-editing technology holds a lot of potentials as it can also be used to wipe out human and animal diseases that have caused havoc in the past. Also, last week, researchers demonstrated how they could eradicate a faulty heart gene mutation in human embryos.

Researchers say that they have only scratched the surface and new findings on how to use the technology are imminent.

Pig organ transplants were first researched in the early 90's, but the researchers quickly discovered that the pigs DNA was laden with virus genes.