Pigs could provide an alternative source of tissue and cells but the immunological challenges and other barriers associated with xenotransplantation need to be overcome.
Transplantation of organs from genetically modified pigs into non-human primates is now not substantially limited by hyperacute, acute antibody-mediated, or cellular rejection, but other issues have become more prominent, such as development of thrombotic microangiopathy in the graft or systemic consumptive coagulopathy in the recipient.
To address these problems, pigs that express one or more human thromboregulatory or anti-inflammatory genes are being developed.
The results of preclinical transplantation of pig cells--eg, islets, neuronal cells, hepatocytes, or corneas--are much more encouraging than they are for organ transplantation, with survival times greater than 1 year in all cases.
Risk of transfer of an infectious microorganism to the recipient is small.