According to organ donation statistics (US), currently, there are 106,660 men, women, and children are on the waiting list for organ transplantation, and about 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant.
CRISPR(Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) was discovered as a bacterial immune system that can effectively recognize and eliminate foreign DNA. CRISPR/Cas technology is quickly recognized as a breakthrough to modify genes in various agricultural and biotechnology applications. Importantly, this gene-editing technology has immense potential to revolutionize cell/gene therapy and modern medicine.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reported the first xenotransplantation of pig hearts to humans. First, the generation of CRISPR-mediated knock-out pigs reduced the chances of immune rejections. Second, the insertion of six genes increased the tolerance of foreign organs to the human immune system. The patient, a 57-year-old man, suffering from terminal heart disease, was transplanted with the CRISPR-edited pig heart as a last resort.
The xenotransplantation mentioned above is a breakthrough result, and researchers will closely monitor this procedure’s long-term effects. However, if the results are consistent and reproducible, it takes us a step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis.