According to a group a scientists from Pittsburgh University, pigs are to be used sooner than later for human organ transplantation. In fact they are planning to start using the cornea from genetically modified pigs into human with poor eye sights. As you may already know, pig valve is already being used in human with much success for years. In order to have the tissue accepted by the human body, the pig protein galactosyltranferase (you don’t need to remember that 🙂 ) has to be removed so the corneas are not rejected.
How about Lung, Liver and Heart?
Solid organ transplantation from pigs (heart, lungs, liver) is several years away to be ready thought. Many issues have occurred, such as bleeding, clotting and organ failure during and after surgery. Scientists have transplanted pig organs in non-human primates for research but within months at the most, all organs had failed. There is also a major concern of transmitting animal viruses into an immune deficient human body which could cause a pandemic at the worst.
Another hurdle that scientists need to account for is groups for animal rights. These people will surely come out in force if pigs are used in mass for organ transplantation one day. In the mean time, scientists expect to be ready by the end of 2013 for corneal transplantation from pigs to human. We’ll see.