There is a critical and continuing shortage of organs and cells from deceased human donors for the purposes of transplantation into patients with terminal organ failure. The use of organs and cells from pigs – i.e., cross-species transplantation, or xenotransplantation – could resolve this problem. Recollections of Pioneers in Xenotransplantation Research is a collection of reminiscences by surgeons and scientists who, over the past 50 years, have made major contributions to research into achieving successful transplantation of pig organs and cells into primates. It records the personal work of 22 researchers from North America, Asia, Europe, and Australasia who developed this field, which will have an immense impact on the future medical care of patients with such diverse conditions as heart and kidney failure, diabetes, corneal blindness, and Parkinson’s disease.
A pig organ transplanted into a human or nonhuman primate is rejected within minutes. To overcome this immunological barrier, pigs have been genetically-engineered to protect their tissues from the primate immune response. Today, life-supporting organs from pigs with up to six genetic modifications have functioned for more than a year in nonhuman primates, and the blood sugar of diabetic monkeys has been controlled for more than two years by the transplantation of insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells from pigs. Clinical trials of pig islet and corneal transplantation have already been undertaken, and trials of organ transplants are currently being planned.
The pioneering researchers who contributed to the early development of this field highlight their own roles, and record their personal recollections of the other scientists and surgeons with whom they collaborated. They do not confine themselves to the scientific progress they made, but comment on the roles of industry and academia in moving the field forward.
Recollections of Pioneers in Xenotransplantation Research
will be of interest to physicians, scientists, and the lay person with an interest in transplantation or in the care of patients with life-threatening diseases, but also to those interested to understand the potential of genetic-engineering in science and medicine.
The book provides a historical record of the research that has contributed to an advance in medicine that has been called “the next great medical revolution.” Within a few years, this new form of therapy is likely to impact every family in the developed world. (Nova Medicine and Health)
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