A Philippine monkey transplanted with a pig heart has survived for 51 days in an experiment for animal-to-human organ transplants free of rejection, a major cause of transplant failure, a South Korean research institute said Wednesday.
The crab-eating macaque received a heart and a cornea from a genetically modified pig in an operation on October 6, the state-run National Institute of Animal Science said in a statement.
The rejection of animal organs in human bodies takes place in stages from hyperacute to acute, cell-mediated and chronic.
The institute produced the pig through transgenic animal cloning in August 2010 to have a gene that causes excessive production of membrane cofactor protein and prevents hyperacute and acute rejection.
"The monkey has survived for more than 50 days, indicating the pig produced by our team is very effective in controlling rejection," institute chief Oh Sung-jong told reporters.
The institute aims to produce the next generation of genetically modified pigs for stable xeno-transplantation through cooperation with a bioengineering firm.
Their first goal is a successful transplant of pancreatic islets from pigs to monkeys that would help find a way for treatment of human diabetes patients.