Our mission is to promote xenotransplantation as a safe, ethical, and effective therapeutic modality

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President's Message - September 2023

Prof. Wayne Hawthorne

Westmead Hospital
University of Sydney, Australia

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am excited to invite you and your colleagues to attend our upcoming IPITA-IXA-CTRMS Joint Congress to be held in San Diego, California on October 26 - 30, 2023. We are expecting close to 600 delegates from all over the world. As part of this experience, leading experts and opinion leaders from around the globe will present the latest data and address important aspects of clinical and experimental transplant therapies. Specific sessions will be devoted to the latest xenotransplantation being undertaken, along with presentations in all aspects of transplant biology, islet cell and whole pancreas transplantation and various stem cell therapies among some of the amazing themes being presented. We are keen to have you attend for what we are sure will be an enjoyable experience, with an in-person meeting and a fabulous line up of speakers including those in the Plenary, State-of-the-art, workshops, and abstract sessions. The young investigators also have several exciting, dedicated sessions at this fabulous venue.

Over the last few decades as a xenotransplant community we have faced a huge number of hurdles and hardships. Not only in the development of the science and obtaining research funding but also including government moratoriums, condemnation, and ridicule from both the scientific and lay community for what we were trying to achieve for our patients and the world. We have been successful and can now provide a fundamentally better, more readily available, and never-ending supply of donor organs and cells to be able to transplant the very unwell patients on our extensive transplant wait lists. Together we have pushed the boundaries of what is possible and we will soon see the advent of clinical xenotransplant trials.

Many have said that “Pigs May Fly” before we get to the clinic with Xenotransplantation, but now, we see that we are close to commencing clinical trials with several groups undertaking xenotransplants into both live and brain-dead recipients. We have successful heart and kidney xenotransplants in patients running for several months post-transplant! It now seems fitting to use the term, “Pigs Will Fly!” So, look out for your “flying pig” in San Diego. Most certainly, very exciting days are ahead!

In landmark news, as part of the ongoing work by our President-Elects’ amazing team at the University of Maryland, they have transplanted the world’s second pig xeno-heart into a live patient. Once again, the team have transplanted a transgenic pig heart (with 10 genetic modifications) into a 58-year-old man who is a Navy veteran facing death from heart failure. Due to his significant other underlying health issues, he was ineligible for a traditional allo-heart transplant. In these critical and early days immediately post-transplant, we wish Muhammad and his team success in caring for their patient and this world leading xenotransplant.

Also, we have had several other groups performing kidney xenotransplants into “brain dead” recipients and studying them for longer time periods. The group from the Langone Transplant Institute, New York City, conducted the 5th xenotransplant at their institution, in which a genetically modified pig kidney was transplanted into a 58-year-old brain-dead patient who was maintained on ventilator support. The team recently announced the kidney functioned normally for 61 days at which time the experiment was terminated but was the longest running successful pig-to-human kidney xenotransplant. Another group from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Heersink School of Medicine, have also performed a further study in which they successfully xenotransplanted a set of 10-gene–edited pig kidneys into a nephrectomised brain-dead recipient. The group reported the kidneys produced urine almost immediately following reperfusion and produced more than 37 liters within the first 24 hours. The recipient was followed and demonstrated no rejection and normal renal function for a period of 7 days with comprehensive details published in JAMA.

As reported in our last IXA newsletter, part of the IXA’s ongoing mission is to inform and educate its membership and the broader transplant community. I encourage you to visit our Media Resource Centre page on the IXA website where you will find the latest news articles and podcasts that deliver interesting lectures that will be of interest to the broader xenotransplant audience.

Click here to access the Media Research Center

We look forward to receiving both feedback and suggestions from members across all levels. If you have an interesting topic for discussion as a podcast, or if you have any feedback, please email the Sections Manager, Suzanne Landis at suzanne.landis@tts.org, who will direct this on to Prof. Rita Bottino and our team for review.

Best Regards,

Professor Wayne J. Hawthorne
IXA President

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