How Close Are We to Developing Pig-to-Human Organ Transplants?

Recent developments have brought potentially lifesaving technologies closer to fruition.

Christopher D. Shea
October 13, 2022

In a new article published in the journal Science today, Megan Sykes, the Michael J. Friedlander Professor of Medicine and professor of microbiology and immunology and surgical sciences (in surgery) and director of Columbia's Center for Translational Immunology, describes the rapid advance of pig-to-human transplants, a promising solution for the ongoing problem of transplant organ shortages.

 “Over 100,000 people in the U.S. are currently waiting for organ transplants,” Sykes writes in the piece. “Because the human organ donor pool cannot keep pace with this demand, many patients die without receiving the life-saving transplant they need.” 

But, she notes, the long-awaited technology appears to be on the brink of breakthrough: “Several developments in the past year, most notably the first pig-to-human transplants, bring this promising solution closer to fruition,” although challenges remain.

This summer, Sykes discussed recent developments in this area in a Q&A with Columbia Surgery. “It’s really, really exciting,” she said of the latest advances in pig-to-human transplants in that interview.

Read Sykes' new paper in Science.

Read Sykes' July Q&A about the latest developments in cross-species transplants, also known as xenotransplants.