In order to solve the global shortage of organs for transplant, researchers from Beilinson Hospital, led by Dr. Shachar Cohen, have developed an innovative and groundbreaking method that will allow organ transplantation from pigs’ bodies in humans in need of transplantation in the future.
The innovative method provides a solution to two main problems in the field of transplants: the lack of organs for transplantation and the rejection of the organs after the transplant. The idea behind the method is the understanding that the most significant factor that causes a rejection of an organ is the inner lining of its blood vessels. This coating is the point of contact between the transplanted organ and the recipient’s body.
When trying to transplant an organ from an animal into humans, a very acute rejection occurs. Therefore, the researchers looked for a way to produce an alternative coating that does not cause rejection. In the study, which was conducted in pigs and rats, the researchers removed the coating from the animals’ blood vessels and replaced it with a more friendly coating for the human immune system. The surrogate is engineered in the laboratory and consists of human placental cells, which, as far as is known, do not cause rejection.
In doing so, the researchers are actually producing a hybrid organ: an organ from animals with human blood vessels. The method has been successfully tried so far in a number of organs: heart, lungs, liver, kidney, pancreas and limbs. Next, the researchers plan to perform initial transplants of a hybrid organ in animals. The researchers estimate that within 3-5 years, the technology they have developed will make it possible to implant in each patient the organ he needs.
Dr. Shachar Cohen, Physician and Researcher, Director of the Tissue Engineering Laboratory at Beilinson’s Transplant Department: “Available without waiting, and without the risk of rejection.”