Monkey receives a liver transplant from a pig and survives for 16 days, Chinese surgeons claim

A monkey who was fed pig liver in a groundbreaking experiment in China survived more than two weeks, experts say.

The animal is one of three macaques that underwent organ transplants earlier this month, performed by a team of surgeons, according to a hospital in northwestern China’s Xi’an city.

The success could mean that Chinese researchers are one step closer to addressing a global shortage of human organs for transplant, the hospital said.

Surgeons claimed that a monkey fed a pig liver during a groundbreaking experiment in China survived more than two weeks.  The photo shows the animal after surgery

Surgeons claimed that a monkey fed a pig liver during a groundbreaking experiment in China survived more than two weeks. The photo shows the animal after surgery

The animal was one of three rhesus monkeys that underwent organ transplants earlier this month, performed by a team of researchers in northwestern China's Xi'an city.

The animal was one of three rhesus monkeys that underwent organ transplants earlier this month, performed by a team of researchers in northwestern China's Xi'an city.

The animal was one of three rhesus monkeys that underwent organ transplants earlier this month, performed by a team of researchers in northwestern China’s Xi’an city.

Medical experts extracted a pig’s heart, kidney and liver before the organs were transplanted to three rhesus monkeys on June 13, according to the report. Xijing hospital, which is affiliated with the Chinese Air Force Medical University.

Imagery released by the local government shows one of the primates lying on the operating table after the medical experts have completed the procedure.

The three transplants were performed simultaneously and all organs functioned perfectly after surgery, Xi’an Hospital said.

The monkey that got a kidney survived for only a day, while the primate with a transplanted heart died after a week.

But the macaque with the pig liver had lived for 16 days – the longest surviving animal to receive a foreign liver transplant in the world – the team announced Monday. It is clear that the monkey remains alive.

A team of Chinese medics extracted a pig's heart, kidney and liver before organs were transplanted to three monkeys on June 13, according to Xijin Hospital in northwest China

A team of Chinese medics extracted a pig's heart, kidney and liver before organs were transplanted to three monkeys on June 13, according to Xijin Hospital in northwest China

A team of Chinese medics extracted a pig’s heart, kidney and liver before organs were transplanted to three monkeys on June 13, according to Xijin Hospital in northwest China

The monkey that got a kidney survived for only a day, while the primate with a transplanted heart died after a week.  The photo shows the monkey after receiving a pig liver

The monkey that got a kidney survived for only a day, while the primate with a transplanted heart died after a week.  The photo shows the monkey after receiving a pig liver

The monkey that got a kidney survived for only a day, while the primate with a transplanted heart died after a week. The photo shows the monkey after receiving a pig liver

The researchers said they used a genome editing technique known as porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) to conduct the experiment.  A scientist is shown explaining the operation after completing all three transplants from a pig to three monkeys in Xi'an

The researchers said they used a genome editing technique known as porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) to conduct the experiment.  A scientist is shown explaining the operation after completing all three transplants from a pig to three monkeys in Xi'an

The researchers said they used a genome editing technique known as porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) to conduct the experiment. A scientist is shown explaining the operation after completing all three transplants from a pig to three monkeys in Xi’an

The researchers said they used a genome editing technique known as porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERV) to conduct the experiment.

The record-breaking experiment comes after two chimera piglets with monkey DNA were previously born in China.

Although both died within a week and seemed normal, the baby animals had genetic material from cynomolgus monkeys in their heart, liver, spleen, lungs and skin.

Scientists said the study, which required more than 4,000 embryos to get the piglets, focused on finding ways to grow human organs in animals for transplantation.

The record-breaking experiment comes after two chimera piglets with monkey DNA were previously born in China.  Although both died within a week and seemed normal, the baby animals had genetic material from cynomolgus monkeys

The record-breaking experiment comes after two chimera piglets with monkey DNA were previously born in China.  Although both died within a week and seemed normal, the baby animals had genetic material from cynomolgus monkeys

The record-breaking experiment comes after two chimera piglets with monkey DNA were previously born in China. Although both died within a week and seemed normal, the baby animals had genetic material from cynomolgus monkeys

“This is the first report of full-term monkey pig chimera,” said Tang Hai of the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing New scientist.

Monkey stem cells adapted to produce a fluorescent protein were injected into five-day piglet embryos so that researchers could find out where the cells ended up.

The scientists said it was unclear why the two chimera piglets died, but since eight other normal implanted piglets also died, they think this is a problem with the IVF process rather than chimerism.

Despite the research, some members of the scientific community have warned against creating chimera because of ethical concerns.

Neuroscientist Douglas Munoz of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, said that these types of research projects “just really scare me ethically.”

“That we’re going to manipulate life functions in this way without fully knowing how to turn it off, or stop if something goes wrong, really scares me.”

Monkey stem cells were injected into five-day-old porcine embryos before implantation into sows.  However, China shows no signs of quitting after proposing to create monkeys with partially human-derived brains to better study diseases such as Alzheimer's

Monkey stem cells were injected into five-day-old porcine embryos before implantation into sows.  However, China shows no signs of quitting after proposing to create monkeys with partially human-derived brains to better study diseases such as Alzheimer's

Monkey stem cells were injected into five-day-old porcine embryos before implantation into sows. However, China shows no signs of quitting after proposing to create monkeys with partially human-derived brains to better study diseases such as Alzheimer’s

However, China is showing no signs of quitting after proposing to create monkeys with a partially human-derived brain to better study diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

And Yale University stem cell expert Alejandro De Los Angeles has written that the search for a better animal model to stimulate human diseases has been a “ holy grail ” of biomedical research for decades.

“Living up to the promise of human-ape chimera research in an ethically and scientifically appropriate way requires a coordinated approach,” he said.

A human and porcine hybrid embryo was created in January 2017 at the Salk Institute in San Diego, but died 28 days later.

Hopefully, the research provides an alternative to organ donation.

About three people a day die in the UK according to the NHS and 12 in the US because no replacement organs can be found.

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