Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pigs to Become A Source of Most Organs for Transplant?

Almost 25 years ago she was told her daughter had a rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and not much could be done about it.  That did not prevent Martine Rothblatt to look for solutions.

Once she realized no major drug companies wanted to spend hundreds of millions to help save a few thousand people, she decided to be part of the solution.  She founded United Therapeutics who created one of the most widely used PAH drugs called Remodulin.  She ended up saving her daughter who has since became an adult.

Move forward to 2019 and the very same company, officially through its subsidiary called Lung Biotechnology based out of Silver Spring, MD, is working towards making more lungs available for lung transplantation.  The first project is xenotransplantation.  That means they are working at developing lungs and other organs suitable for transplant out of pigs.

The long-term goal is for everybody on the waitlist to be able to find the organ that would be the best match for them.  We are still years away for this to be technology and ethic ready but there is hope.

In the meantime, they have associated with Mayo Clinic in Florida to develop a lung restauration center.  The main focus is a lung perfusion ex vivo (ex vivo means outside the body) machine which can be used up to 22 hours to try to optimize some lungs who may have been discarded otherwise due to concerns about the quality.

This kind of technology already exist but current devices only allow for 4-6 hours max of ex vivo perfusion.  During ex vivo lung perfusion physicians are able to give large dose of antibiotics, do some manipulation to try to clear thick secretions and perform bronchoscopies.  More and more centers are using this kind of technology but the success is limited by the short window of 4-6 hours.

By their partnership, United Therapeutics with its Lung Biotechnology subsidiary and Mayo Clinic will have for goals of making the impossible happen.  It would not be the first time Martine Rothblatt is going against other giants but based on her history, be ready for another breakthrough.

Pierre Luc Charland
Pierre Luc Charland
Aside from being a very experienced transplant coordinator in the Houston area, Pierre is also an amazing content creator for our properties. Pierre plays a key role in driving our mission and offering expert insight to the ever evolving world of transplantation.

Facebook Comments

Regular Comments


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Must Read

Five Shocking Facts about Transplant Medications

According to UNOS, 19,513 transplants were performed between January and June 2019. While their diagnoses and organ needs differ, all transplant recipients share one...

Trump’s New Kidney Dialysis Directive To Save Lives And Money

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at reducing the cost of kidney treatment by increasing the availability of kidney transplants. According to...

Disparity Persists In Kidney Transplantation for Hispanics and African Americans

For two decades now, there has been a campaign to increase the number of Hispanic and black patients receiving kidney transplants from related and...

It’s Time to Eliminate the Monopolies in Organ Donation

We have always been told that competition makes people or businesses better, right??  It pushes us to work a little harder which at the...

Ever Think About Donating Part of Your Liver? On Average Over 400 Americans Do Every Year

The Ed Henry story is helping promote living donation for liver transplantation. Ed Henry is a journalist for Fox News and he decided to donate...