Researchers at Yale University have used an artificial blood replacement to restore activity to porcine brains hours after their death.
For people with end-stage heart failure, getting a heart transplant can be the difference between life and death when all other treatments have failed.
Yet finding a suitable donor can often be difficult, which is why the medical community has turned to xenotransplantation – organ transplants from one species to another – for a solution.
They were men who had suffered unimaginable injuries.
Two of them were ex-soldiers, wounded by explosives. They had lost anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the muscles in their legs.
Things seemed hopeless even after surgery and physical therapy. Then came an experimental study, involving pig bladders from research swine.
In 2017, scientists at the Salk Institute made an announcement that almost sounded like science fiction: they had created the first successful animal-human hybrids.
Can pig islet cells offer a way to combat Parkinson’s disease?
That’s what researchers at Living Cell Technologies in New Zealand hope to learn with the help of research swine.
Over the past few years, this firm has been implanting cells from the choroid plexus of a pig into the brains of Parkinson’s patients to attempt to stop the illness’ progression.
Research swine are contributing to research studies that focus on restorative therapies to replace lost or diseased human tissues.
While the amount of suitable human cells for transplantation is lacking, porcine cells offer researchers a suitable, and much more available, alternative.
In 2014, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that cells derived from porcine organs – in this case, bladders – could work with human stem cells help build muscles in the legs of five men who had suffered severe injuries, including two soldiers injured by IEDs.
All five had suffered from nearly 60 percent to 90 percent of leg muscle loss, and had undergone surgery and physical therapy, with no success.
The concept of xenotransplantation between humans and pigs is not new, but it’s one that’s faced some hurdles on the road to becoming a viable organ transplant method.
The key concern was that the human recipient could contract serious – if not fatal – zoonotic diseases from pig organs via porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVS).
Thermal ablation is an important technique in treating liver tumors and metastases. New research into this treatment conducted in Germany relied on porcine liver models to test ablation methods.
This study was conducted by researchers from University Medicine Berlin and Martin Luther University in Halle, and published in April in the Journal of Cellular Biology.
Porcine tissues are an excellent model for this sort of research. There are many stresses – internal, thermal, residual – induced by the rapid cooling process of vitreous cryopreservation.
By using porcine tissues, researchers can fine-tune the methods used in cryopreservation and improve the process, which in turn will allow for effective preservation of larger materials.
Since porcine hepatic tissue is so similar to the liver tissue found in humans, it is an excellent tissue model for vitreous cryopreservation research. A recent study in China – published in the March 2017 edition of the International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer — used porcine hepatic tissue to look at vitreous cryopreservation.
Pigs regularly play an important role in vital medical research through the use of porcine organs and tissues.
One such area is the field known as TERM, or tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Tissue regeneration can change the lives of humans and animals alike, making progress in this field of research even more critical.