Chinese Scientists Start Using Pigs to Grow Human Organs for Transplants

International condemnation of China’s enforced organ trafficking of political detainees has taken place; however, the Chinese government has already been spending substantial funds on questionable studies.

These studies entail exploiting genetically engineered pigs as a feature of social organ transplants, hailing it as a “global first.”

Firms Dedicated to Interspecies Transplant Studies have Received Billions in Funding

Genome coding firms in China garnered roughly two billion yuan in funding in 2020, as per state media.

In propaganda made by CCP on September 22, 2020, Xinhua reported that Chinese researchers have made major accomplishments in xenotransplantation techniques with genetically modified pigs.

Xenotransplantation is a surgical practice that involves the transplant of organ transplants into people.

According to Xinhua, Yang Luhan (a founding member of Qihan Biotech in Hanzhou, China, and founding partner and lead researcher of Cambridge mutation corporation eGenesis in Boston), developed a prototype xenograft with techniques that have been successful.

Specifically, this entails overcoming two significant xenograft security requirements: trying to remove genetic viruses from pigs and improving xenograft immune system compatibility.

On September 21, 2020, Yang’s work was also reported in Nature Bioengineering. Qihan Biotechnology, Harvard University, Medical Center, eGenesis in Boston, and Yunnan Research Farm in China are among the paper’s co-authors.

The research explains how CRISPR-Cas9 deletion and transposition gene insert techniques were utilized to improve the pigs’ immunological tolerance and venous compatibility with human beings by modifying a series of genetic cassettes in pigs.

The modified pigs had physiological functions, libido, and germ transfer of the 13 genes and 42 alleles altered, according to the paper.

Organ Transplantation Using Genetically Engineered Animals

Previous to this, significant technological developments in genetically modifying swine to render their kidneys, hearts, and other organs more suited for human transplant occurred; many of these were the product of Yang Luhan’s Harvard Medical teacher, Professor George Church’s, research.

Yang and Church created eGenesis in Boston in 2015; the company got $38 million and $100 million in different sessions of fundraising in 2017 and 2019, respectively. They then landed another $125 million in a third funding round in March 2021.

In 2017, eGenesis declared the production of the globe’s first genetically altered swine that do not bring genetic viruses; this, therefore, minimizes the chances of virus transfer from pigs to human beings.

In 2018, eGenesis revealed the production of the globe’s first immunocomplex-engineered animal, reducing transplant reactions of pig allogeneic transplantation.

Aside from the two concerns mentioned above, there was also the question of operational compatibility: it was unclear if the pig kidney would be able to perform the same hormonal and metabolic balancing activities as the individual human organ after transplant.

Following the resolution of these issues, a considerable number of medical trials were conducted. Pig tissues would be put onto primates first, followed by clinical studies on humans.

The marketing of pig xenotransplantation, though, was fraught with ethical and legal issues.