Pigs are a natural source for xenotransplantation due to the fact that they are so anatomically similar to humans. The key is to genetically modify the animals by knocking out the genes that are responsible for initiating the human immune system.
Research studies that have been carried out over the last year at The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have shown that genetically altered porcine hearts that are transplanted into baboon’s abdomens are withstanding rejection along with a little help from host targeted immunosuppression. It is the hope of the scientists that all major organs will be able to be xenotransplanted including insulin producing cells which would treat diabetic patients.
This procedure will hopefully mean fewer potentially toxic drugs for immunosuppression. This is critical research because it may solve the shortage of human donor organs. Please click the link for “Pig Heart Transplants For Humans Could Be On Their Way” by Janet Fang to read the article.