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Chinese researchers await permission clinical trials pig organs into humans

Chinese scientists say getting closer to stepping into the pilot stage of organ transplantation of pigs as donors to humans. Researchers are waiting for the government to approve clinical trials using genetically modified pig organs for human transplants projected for the first time in 2019.

Tinuku Chinese researchers await permission clinical trials pig organs into humans

Recent experiments on monkeys showed they lived many years after receiving pig organ transplant. China is the country that has the largest pig cloning farm in the world and has an expanded supply of animals specifically for transplant heart, liver and other organs to humans.

Demand for transplant surgery in the country is also very large given the high cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and hepatitis resulting in organ failure. They are now hoping for the government to immediately grant a clinical trial permit.

"We have patients who die from organ failure and families who are desperate about the opportunity to live," Zhao Zijian, director of the Metabolic Disease Research Center at Nanjing Medical University in Jiangsu.

"The government has been silent, we understand they must be hard to make a decision, but it's time we have to get an answer," Zijian said.

By 2015 the Chinese government ceases the practice of obtaining organs from executed prisoners and raises concerns about whether enough donors will be available to meet the needs of transplants in the world's most populous country.

More than 10,000 Chinese people donate their organs during the period 2010 to 2016, but more than 1.5 million patients require transplants every year. The proposed clinical trial is part of a national xenotransplant project involving more than 10 research institutions and is funded by the central government.

Pig organs are considered the best animal candidate for human transplants because they are most similar to size and metabolism. In recent years, researchers from around the world have made breakthroughs using pig organs for xenotransplantation.

The experiments involved the lungs, kidneys and heart. Pig corneal transplants have been conducted in China since 2010 and more than 100 patients have vision recovery after surgery costs around 30,000 yuan (US$4,500).

Recent advances in biotechnology especially the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing tools allow scientists to alter or bypass certain genes. The technique also allows scientists to modify pigs genetically to prevent the human immune system from rejecting organs after transplant surgery.

"One must take the first step, whether it's the Food and Drug Administration or the China Food and Drug Administration," Zhao said.

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