The Resurgence of Xenotransplantation

P. J. Cowan, A. J. Tector

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


There has been an upsurge of interest in xenotransplantation in recent years. This resurgence can attributed to a combination of factors. First, there has been a dramatic improvement in efficacy in several preclinical models, with maximum xenograft survival times increasing to 950 days for islets, 945 days for hearts, and 310 days for kidneys. Second, the rapid development of genome editing technology (particularly the advent of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/Cas9) has revolutionized the capacity to generate new donor pigs with multiple protective genetic modifications; what once took many years to achieve can now be performed in months, with much greater precision and scope. Third, the specter of porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) has receded significantly. There has been no evidence of PERV transmission in clinical trials and preclinical models, and improved screening methods and new options for the treatment or even elimination of PERV are now available. Balancing these positive developments are several remaining challenges, notably the heavy and often clinically inapplicable immunosuppression required to prevent xenograft rejection. Nonetheless, the potential for xenotransplantation as a solution to the shortage of human organs and tissues for transplantation continues to grow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2531-2536
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • animal models: nonhuman primate
  • basic (laboratory) research/science
  • cloning
  • translational research/science
  • xenoantibody
  • xenoantigen
  • xenotransplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Transplantation
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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