Genetically modified pig skin used in temporary closure of human wound

October 14, 2019 0 By FM

Burn specialists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) successfully utilised live-cell from genetically engineered pig skin (xenograft) for the temporary closure of a burn wound.

The surgery was performed in an FDA-cleared phase1 clinical trial led by surgeon Jeremy Goverman, MD, of the MGH Sumner Redstone Burn Service.

Human cadaveric skin (allografts) obtained from national skin banks is a standard of care for deep second and third-degree burns to temporarily close massive burn wounds. However it is often subjected to shortages, expensiveness and requires strictly regulated tissue banks for processing.

The cadaveric skin allows time for the patient to stabilize, and protects the underlying wound while the patient awaits permanent closure with their own skin.

MGH collaborated with Boston-based XenoTherapeutics, which designed and implemented the safety protocols for the special live pig tissue graft, known as xenoskin.

During the genetic modification of the swine the researchers had removed a gene which is specific to pigs and not present in humans, allowing the pig skin to appear less foreign to the human immune system.

During the procedure, a 5-by-5-centimeter piece of genetically engineered pig skin was placed on the recipient’s burn wound after it had been cleared of necrotic tissue. The pig skin graft was placed next to a much larger piece of cadaveric skin and both were secured with surgical staples and gauze bandages.

Five days later, surgeons removed the temporary cadaveric skin and xenograft. Both skin grafts were adherent to the underlying wound bed and appeared indistinguishable from each other.

The scientists reported that no adverse events were further observed and the wound was then treated further with a skin graft harvested from the patient’s own thigh. Healing has progressed and the patient will soon return to work, reported MGH.

“..Rapid advancements in gene-editing technology open a vast new avenue for genetically modifying pig skin that isn’t rejected, representing the next chapter in standards of care for burn and transplant patients alike.”says Dr. Goverman.

“We have taken a small but unprecedented step in bringing xenotransplantation from theory to therapy, one that we hope will advance this promising field of medicine and benefit patients around the world,” said Paul Holzer, CEO of XenoTherapeutics.