Piglet transplanted in Univalle, survives happily. Positive prospects for human transplants.
As a unique case in the world, a pig model, that received the transplant of one of its lungs from another pig, survives in a very good state of health one year after the surgery, without any immunosuppressive medication.
These results are encouraging the application of this technique in humans, with the benefits that this would mean in terms of quality of life of the recipient patient, and reducing costs for patients, their families, and the health systems. So far now, immunosuppressive drugs must be prescribed after a transplant, and patients must continue with this medication for the rest of their lives.
With immunosuppression, patients are exposed in a very vulnerable way to the aggressions of the external world, since what has been done is to annul the natural response of the defense of the organism to the presence of a foreign element, through specialized medications. It is the only way to avoid the rejection of the transplanted organ.
The transplant was done by the Research group in Regenerative Medicine of the University of Valle, led by Oscar Gutiérrez Montes, professor of the Faculty of Health. The project also included the participation of Doctors Gustavo Valderrama H. and Henry Rodríguez; Veterinarians Rodrigo Zambrano and Laura Rodríguez; and Bacteriologists Jaime Muñoz and Olga Fernández, in addition to the support of the rest of the team, who applied a novel technique to prevent the rejection of the transplanted lung by the immune system of the receptor.
These positive results encourage the research group to continue their work, aiming to be able to prove the technique in human beings, in accordance with ethical, scientific and methodological requirements.
Professor Oscar Gutiérrez
"Through chimerization techniques, the recipient bio model did not register the transplanted lung as a foreign element, thus, it did not reject the lung, which normally happens with the techniques that are currently used for transplants. Through biochemical processes, the receiver "reads" the "written" codes in the cells of the receiving organism, and compares them with their own; if they are different, immune system rejects the new organ, causing the failure of the transplant. Chimerization technique allow us to ensure that the transplanted organ is "recoded" by the receiving body and accepted without rejection", explained Professor Gutiérrez, who directs the experiments.
"After this successful process, we hope this technique can be applied in humans in a satisfactory way. Thereby, we would face a fact of great importance for humanity, since it would allow extending the survival of patients with transplants, without increasing the costs of their post-transplant treatment”, said Professor Gutiérrez, adding that "we have a lot of faith” about this process.
We hope that institutions, such as the University Hospital of Valle, can resume its transplant program, revolutionizing the techniques used and benefiting thousands of patients and the health system.
September 7 /2017
August 26 /2018
Celebrating the first year after transplant
With a cake and a happy meeting, the Faculty of Health of the University of Valle celebrated the first year of post-operative life of the pig, named "Pachoron", after the transplant of one of its lungs. The name was jokingly given to the piglet because its transplant operation coincided with the date of Pope Francis' visit to Colombia (September 5, 2017).
Researchers, journalists, professors, students and other members of the University of Valle, attended to the celebration, which took place at Faculty of Health, on 6th of September. “This is an outstanding achievement of the research in Colombia, with a world-class impact," concluded Professor Gutiérrez.
Students, teachers and officials of University of Valle, surround Professor Óscar Gutiérrez and Pachorron the piglet, in the celebration of a year after its lung transplant.