Chinese researchers achieve milestone in xenotransplantation, genetically modified pig liver transplanted into living human patient

First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University

26th May 2024 – (Hefei) Chinese researchers have achieved a significant breakthrough in the field of xenotransplantation by successfully transplanting a genetically modified pig liver into a living human patient with severe liver cancer. This remarkable achievement opens new possibilities for addressing organ shortages and revolutionizing the field of transplantation.

The pioneering operation was conducted on May 17 at the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University in Hefei, under the leadership of Professor Sun Beicheng from the Hefei hospital. The collaborative effort also involved a team led by Professor Wei Hongjiang from Yunnan Agricultural University.

Remarkably, the 71-year-old patient showed no signs of acute or hyperacute rejection within the first seven days following the transplant. Additionally, there were no complications observed in his coagulation system. This marks the first-ever clinically assisted pig-to-human xenogeneic liver transplant and the fifth xenogeneic organ transplant in the world.

The patient’s recovery has been promising, as he is currently able to move freely and his liver function, along with other crucial health indicators, has returned to normal levels. This achievement follows a previous successful milestone in April, where Chinese researchers conducted a pig liver transplant into a brain-dead patient at Xijing Hospital of the Air Force Medical University in Xi’an, marking the first-ever instance of a pig liver being transplanted into a brain-dead human.

Xenotransplantation, the process of transplanting organs or tissues between different species, holds immense potential for addressing the global organ shortage crisis. However, significant challenges remain, including the risk of organ rejection and potential transmission of infectious diseases. Ongoing research and clinical trials will continue to advance this field, aiming to establish safe and effective methods for xenotransplantation.