Animal-human organ transplant trials expected in 2013
Scientists in the US believe the world is on the brink of a major medical breakthrough; the transplant of organs from animals into humans.
As an answer to the shortage of available organs and increasing transplant waiting lists, researchers have created genetically modified (GM) pigs with organs that are suitable to transplant into humans.
They are now hoping initial trials of pig to human organ transplants will begin in 2013, commencing with patients who have sight difficulties receiving the pig’s corneas.
As well as potentially curing blindness in humans, it is hoped organ transplants from GM pigs to humans will also help cure other ailments such as diabetes and brain diseases.
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To make their organs compatible with humas, the GM pigs have had the pig protein galactosyltransferase removed because it would have been rejected by the human immune system.
Writing in medical journal The Lancet, the scientists from Pittsburgh University said: “With new genetically modified pigs becoming available that are likely to improve the outcome of cellular and corneal xenotransplantation further, we believe that clinical trials will be justified within the next two to three years.”
However, they have admitted bigger organ transplants of livers, kidneys and hearts are still a number of years away after studies on cross-species animal transplant trials have shown clots and excessive bleeding occur in these instances.
The research team said: “These problems mean that the longest survival time for pig organs in non-human primates to date ranges from a few days for lungs to around six to eight months for hearts, and trials of solid organ transplants of this nature in humans are likely to be several years away.”
There are also concerns that such transplants could trigger a new disease pandemic if viruses move from animals into humans.
Until now, using mechanical organs as a replacement or using stem cells to construct simple structures such a wind pipes are the only alternative transplant options that have been explored.
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Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”