RESEARCHERS AT THE LUDWIG
MAXIMILIAN UNIVERSITY of
Munich have successfully implanted
a pig heart into a baboon, bringing
xenotransplantation closer to human
Pig hearts could be a potential
solution to the ongoing organ donor
shortage. They are easy to breed
and to genetically edit, which make
them good models to use for medical
research. Additionally, their organs are
very similar to those found in humans.
While the idea is good in concept,
cross-species transplantation, also
known as xenotransplantation, has
been difficult to actually accomplish.
Before this study, 60 percent of all
attempts to replace a baboon’s heart
with a pig’s has lasted less than two
The new research revealed that a
combination of the new gene-editing
tool, CRISPR-Cas9, and the right
mixture of immunosupressants
made it possible for cross-species transplants to last
In the study published in
Nature, two baboons survived
six months after being surgically
implanted with hearts from
genetically engineered pigs.
This is twice the survival period set
forth by the International Society for
Heart and Lung Transplantation as a
benchmark as a safety marker for non-human primate trials before moving
into clinical research.
Cross-species Heart Transplant Successful
Mouse Research Identifies 300
New Genes Linked to Eyesight,
THREE HUNDRED LABORATORY MICE may have just
helped reveal the genetic causes of eye disease.
The study, published in Nature Communications Biology,
identified 300 new genes that play important roles in vision.
Three-quarters of the genes were not previously known to
cause eye disease in any species.
The results represent a major step forward in the effect to
identify the cause of vision loss in people.
“The mouse and human genomes bear substantial
similarities. The shape and components of all ocular structures
are also very similar between mouse and human eyes, though
mouse eyes are obviously much smaller,” study author, Ala
Moshiri, associate professor of ophthalmology and vision
science in the University of California, Davis School of
Medicine and Eye Center, said. “This makes the mouse a
The research was conducted as a
part of the International Mouse
Phenotyping Consortium, whose
goal is to identify a function
for every gene in the
in Lab Mice
A MOUSE STUDY has revealed how a dietary
intervention can prevent the development of lupus,
the immune disease.
The research, published in Cell Host & Microbe,
revealed that the bacterium, Lactobacillus reuteri,
triggers the immune response in the body that leads
to lupus in laboratory mice. The researchers found a
similar imbalance of gut microbes in people with lupus.
A resistant starch—or high-fiber—diet suppressed
the growth and movement of L. reuteri bacteria
in lupus-prone mice, preventing the animals from
getting the autoimmune disease.
“I would like to stress how important our
animal models were to discover the host-microbe
interactions relevant for this human inflammation
pathway,” study author and Yale immunobiologist
Martin Kriegel explained to ALN.
“These studies set the foundation for additional
work in humans that would likely never have
happened if we were not able to dissect the
microbiomes of the lupus-prone mice.”
The findings suggest an important link between
diet, gut bacteria and autoimmunity.