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Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.
Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.
Surgeons attached the pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days. The kidney did what it was supposed to do — filter waste and produce urine — and didn't trigger rejection.
"It had absolutely normal function," said Dr. Robert Montgomery, who led the surgical team last month at NYU Langone Health in New York. "It didn't have this immediate rejection that we have worried about."
This research is "a significant step," said Dr. Andrew Adams of the University of Minnesota Medical School, who was not part of the work. It will reassure patients, researchers and regulators "that we're moving in the right direction."
The dream of animal-to-human transplants, or xenotransplantation, dates to the 17th century with stumbling attempts to use animal blood for transfusions. By the 20th century, surgeons were attempting transplants of organs from baboons into humans, notably Baby Fae, a dying infant, who lived 21 days with a baboon heart.
With no lasting success and much public uproar, scientists turned from primates to pigs, tinkering with their genes to bridge the species gap.
Pigs have advantages over monkeys and apes. They are produced for food, so using them for organs raises fewer ethical concerns. Pigs have large litters, short gestation periods and organs comparable to those of humans.
Pig heart valves also have been used successfully for decades in humans. The blood thinner heparin is derived from pig intestines. Pig skin grafts are used on burns, and Chinese surgeons have used pig corneas to restore sight.
Kidney ready for transplantation from a live donor Image credit: wikimedia commons
In the NYU case, researchers kept a deceased woman's body on a ventilator after her family agreed to the experiment. The woman had wished to donate her organs, but they weren't suitable for traditional donation.
'Good could come from this'
The family felt "there was a possibility that some good could come from this gift," Montgomery said.
Montgomery himself received a transplant three years ago, a human heart from a donor with hepatitis C because he was willing to take any organ.
"I was one of those people lying in an ICU waiting and not knowing whether an organ was going to come in time," he said.
Several biotech companies are in the running to develop suitable pig organs for transplant to help ease the human organ shortage. More than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for kidney transplants. Every day, 12 die while waiting.
The advance is a win for Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics, the company that engineered the pig and its cousins, a herd of 100 raised in tightly controlled conditions at a facility in Iowa.
The pigs lack a gene that produces alpha-gal, the sugar that provokes an immediate attack from the human immune system.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved the gene alteration in the Revivicor pigs as safe for human food consumption and medicine.
But the FDA said developers would need to submit more paperwork before pig organs could be transplanted into living humans.
"This is an important step forward in realizing the promise of xenotransplantation, which will save thousands of lives each year in the not-too-distant future," said United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt in a statement.
Experts say tests on nonhuman primates and last month's experiment with a human body pave the way for the first experimental pig kidney or heart transplants in living people in the next several years.
Raising pigs to be organ donors feels wrong to some people, but it may grow more acceptable if concerns about animal welfare can be addressed, said Karen Maschke, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, who will help develop ethics and policy recommendations for the first clinical trials under a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
"The other issue is going to be: Should we be doing this just because we can?" Maschke said. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Transplant, Pig, Human, Kidney, FDA
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By- Devakinanda Ji
OṀ (AUM)-JII-VI-ṪAAR-DHA-BO'-DHA-KA- BHOO-MYAI-Ṇ—NA-MA-HA
ॐ जीवितार्थबोधकभूम्यै नमः
(Jīviṫa: Life; Ardha: Meanining; Bodhaka: That which teaches)
What is born has to die. Anything that has form and shape has to degrade over time. The question is how one has lived his life or how long he has lived? The vanity toward their bodies, their desire for longevity, and material indulgence the westerns have; you don't see anywhere else on the planet.
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Our scriptures and sacred texts teach us that there are 8.4 million species born and every living being that is born, indeed dies. Human life is the highest species because of awareness and a human has the opportunity to redeem himself or herself in this life with the free will given to them. We have the faculties of action, freewill, and the power of knowledge. These faculties make humans different than all the other animals, which are programmed to eat, procreate and sleep. Our ancient spiritual scientists (sages, rishis, and seers) educated us to think about the temporary nature of our bodies. We take it for granted that we live forever; even as we see people around us dying. Still we live in a delusion, thinking that we won't die and will live happily ever after. But our rishis constantly remind us that we should work towards liberation while living in this body (jēvanmukta).
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Only our sacred texts like the Vedas and Upanishads can answer deep philosophical questions like: what is the purpose of our universe? The reason for our lives? the meaning and purpose of life? You may not find the answers in any other religion. Our philosophy does not stop at going to heaven after death, but discusses very thoroughly karma, rebirth, and liberation. Our Vedas discuss how to get out of the wheel of birth and death (punarapi jananam; punarapi maraṇam). They laid down dharmasūtrās (do's and don'ts) for us to live by. They clearly explain about heaven (if you believe in and desire it) and the journey the jīva (pure spirit) takes after the death of the gross body, based on the results of our actions while alive. Vedas have established the four purushārthās (dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣha) as the goals of life.
Hence, our land is the one which teaches the ends to be striven for by human beings and is 'Jīvitārdhabodhaka Bhūmi'.
Many young and middle-aged people today are dying of sudden heart attacks. Studies show that cardiovascular diseases (CVD) strike Indians a decade earlier compared to their Western counterparts. Why is this happening? How can we prevent it? Are we just focused on post-heart attack action? Or should we be focused more on prevention?
Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach -- Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine shares an input that could prevent heart attacks at a young age:
Cholesterol is not the culprit, inflammation is: Many people believe that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are the sole culprits behind their heart attacks. The main reasons behind most heart attacks are inflammation and oxidative damage in the heart, blood vessels, endothelial lining, arteries, and more. While maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important, we cannot blame heart attacks on cholesterol levels alone. What then can you do to keep inflammation in check and your heart strong? Adopt simple lifestyle changes.
Many people believe that high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides are the sole culprits behind their heart attacks. | Flickr
Switch from ordinary substandard cooking oils to cold-pressed oils: Refined oils are highly inflammatory and a threat to your heart. Using refined oils just to save some money isn't a wise idea. Choose the right quality and quantity of oil to boost your heart health. It might cost you a few extra bucks, but remember, your health is not a cost but an investment.
Refined oils are highly inflammatory and a threat to your heart. Using refined oils just to save some money isn't a wise idea. | Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash
Switch from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one: Even if you don't engage in a full-fledged workout, just stay active. Walking and yoga are the most effective exercises. Choose fun workouts that you enjoy -- dancing, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, whatever it is, but keep that body moving. People who live a sedentary lifestyle are at high risk of heart attacks. Having said that, over-working out with little orno rest or recovery period is equally harmful. So, figure out the adequate level of activity your body needs and stick to it.
Even if you don't engage in a full-fledged workout, just stay active. Walking and yoga are the most effective exercises. | Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash
Don't take matters to your heart: Before renting out your heart space and mind space to a person, event or experience, ask yourself if it is worth it. While stress is inevitable, what sets a happy person apart from a stressed person is their capacity to diffuse and navigate stress and see things in a positive light. You can continue attending stress management classes and workshops, and while all of them can help you feel better for some time, the real change happens when you start changing your perspective towards life and how you relate to stress.Learn to accept and let go. Build your self-worth, create a beautiful inner world, reflect inwards, and allow these teachings to slip into your daily living.
Before renting out your heart space and mind space to a person, event or experience, ask yourself if it is worth it. |cPhoto by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Fix your sleep routine: There is nothing cool about pulling an all-nighter to work or socialize more. Your body only cares about survival. Remember, your sleep is your heart's free drug. The chronic deprivation of it can increase your risk of a heart attack. Your heart is a muscle that needs recovery. Lack of sleep increases your insulin resistance and makes you more prone to type-2 diabetes and a gamut of metabolic conditions. So, adopt a fixed sleeping schedule and sleep deep.
There is nothing cool about pulling an all-nighter to work or socialize more. | Photo by Tetiana SHYSHKINA on Unsplash
We cannot wait for more misfortunate incidents to realize the importance of lifestyle and start prioritizing it. We must wake up and work towards prevention. Many of us may go through heart disease later in life, no matter how well we exercise or eat clean. So, identify risk factors and work towards tackling them. Even if one of your risk factors is genetic predisposition and there is nothing you can do about it, you can still alter your lifestyle. Our intelligent human body was designed to fix and heal itself. The least we can do is invest in it and help it do its job effectively. Lifestyle can help you bridge this gap.
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: lifestyle, heart, oil, stress, sleep, human, body, health, heart attack
The dangerous MCR-1 gene, which provides resistance to the last-resort antibiotic colistin, has been found in four healthy humans and two pet dogs, according to new research, which found that the gene can be transmitted between dogs and their owners.
The study raises concerns that pets can act as reservoirs of the gene and so aid the spread of resistance to precious last-line antibiotics, said researchers from the University of Lisbon.
They found two cases, in which both dog and owner were harbouring the gene.
The MCR-1 gene, first reported in China in 2015, confers resistance to colistin -- an antibiotic of last resort used to treat infections from some bacteria resistant to all other antibiotics. If MCR-1 combines with already drug-resistant bacteria, it can create a truly untreatable infection, the researchers said.
"Colistin is used when all other antibiotics have failed -- it is a crucial treatment of last resort. If bacteria resistant to all drugs acquire this resistance gene, they would become untreatable, and that's a scenario we must avoid at all costs," said Juliana Menezes from the varsity's Centre of Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
"We know that the overuse of antibiotics drives resistance and it is vital that they are used responsibly, not just in medicine but also in veterinary medicine and farming," Menezes added.
For the study, the team looked for resistance to colistin in bacteria in faecal samples from people and pets.
Samples were taken from 126 healthy people living with 102 cats and dogs in 80 households in Lisbon between February 2018 and February 2020. All of the humans and 61 of the pets were healthy. A total of 23 pets had skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) and 18 had urinary tract infections (UTI).
Eight dogs out of the 102 pets (7.8 per cent) and four humans out of 126 (3.2 per cent) harboured bacteria with the MCR-1 gene. Three of the dogs were healthy, four had SSTIs and one had a UTI. None of the cats was carrying the gene. Further analysis showed that the bacteria isolated from all 12 samples that were MCR-1 positive were resistant to multiple antibiotics.
In two households with dogs with SSTIs, the MCR-1 gene was found in both dog and owner. Genetic analysis of the samples suggested that in one of these two cases, the gene had been transmitted between pet and owner.
While transmission in both directions is possible, it is thought that in this case, the gene passed from dog to human, Menezes said.
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The owners did not have infections and so did not need treatment. The sick dogs were successfully treated.
The study was presented at the ongoing European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) taking place online between July 9 and 12. (IANS/AD)