Xenotransplantation literature update, November/December 2019

Adwin Thomas, Wayne J. Hawthorne, Christopher Burlak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The ever-increasing disparity between the lack of organ donors and patients on the transplant waiting list is increasing worldwide. For the past several decades xenotransplantation has led the way to correct this deficit and remains clearly the only feasible option to provide a means to meet the demand for patients in need of an organ transplant. Xenotransplantation’s ability to provide a specifically designed unlimited supply of organs, suited to treat the various needs for transplant organs and cells, has recently been championed by successful pre-clinical trials that have run long-term in non-human primate studies. In this review we show how these improvements have come about due to long-term dedicated research and recent advances in biomedical engineering technology, such as genome editing tools including zinc finger nucleases, TALEN, and CRISPER/Cas9 which have paved the way for significant breakthroughs in improving xenograft outcomes through genetic modifications to the donor source pig. Other novel approaches include the development of decellularized porcine tissue, such as corneas which can now be transplanted into patients with the minimal need for immunosuppression or other side effects. Further genetic variants of the porcine genome are also now being optimized to abrogate rejection. The emergence of new modalities such as; mesenchymal stem cells, donor thymic vascularization, in vivo bioreactors, chemokine and cytokine therapies have come to show improvements in xenograft outcomes. Furthermore, new studies confirm the safety status of using porcine xenografts, verifying that with current technologies and approaches, the issue of PERV transmission is a moot point. These breakthroughs and technological advancements push the reality of xenotransplantation one step closer to the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12582
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • complement regulation
  • zoonosis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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