Scientists Propose Transplanting a Pig Kidney into a Human Fetus

    A team of specialists in Japan raised the possibility of transplanting a kidney from a pig to a human fetus, in order to help it overcome an illness

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    A team of specialists in Japan is working on an innovative project that involves a temporary transplant of a pig kidney to a human fetus suffering from serious kidney disease.

    The group of scientists belonging to the Faculty of Medicine of Jikei University has submitted an application to carry out this study, which is pending approval by a state committee in the first months of this year 2024, after going through an ethical review and an evaluation of the facilities where the intervention will be carried out.

    What does this kidney transplant entail?

    The plan consists of transplanting a kidney two millimeters in size from a pig fetus, which will be extracted 30 days after fertilization.Subsequently, this organ will be implanted through a hypodermic needle under the skin of the fetus’s back around four weeks before birth, with the aim of stimulating urine production.Once the baby is born, urine generated by the transplanted pig kidney will be expelled through a tube inserted into the baby’s back.

    The transplanted kidney will be removed weeks later if the baby reaches a certain level of growth or if it is considered necessary to receive dialysis treatment, according to the medical team.

    This procedure would mark the first time a pig-to-human transplant has been performed in Japan. In the United States, similar transplants have already been carried out, such as the one carried out by specialists at New York University in 2021, where a genetically modified kidney was transplanted.

    What is the Potter sequence?

    Potter sequence, also known as Potter syndrome, is related to a lack of amniotic fluid or kidney failure in a fetus, which prevents the proper development of these organs while the rest of the body develops in the womb.

    The kidneys are responsible for the production of amniotic fluid, which surrounds the fetus, as well as urine. This condition can be detected through ultrasounds, which will show the absence of amniotic fluid or the presence of absent or abnormal kidneys, according to the United States National Institutes of Health.

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