Regulation of Clinical Xenotransplantation—Time for a Reappraisal
The continual critical shortage of organs and cells from deceased human donors has stimulated research in the field of cross-species transplantation (xenotransplantation), with the pig selected as the most suitable potential source of organs. Since the US Food and Drug Administration concluded a comprehensive review of xenotransplantation in 2003, considerable progress has been made in the experimental laboratory to improve cell and organ xenograft survival in several pig-to-nonhuman primate systems that offer the best available models to predict clinical outcomes. Survival of heart, kidney, and islet grafts in nonhuman primates is now being measured in months or even years. The potential risks associated with xenotransplantation, for example, the transfer of an infectious microorganism, that were highlighted in the 2003 Food and Drug Administration guidance and subsequent World Health Organization consensus documents have been carefully studied and shown to be either less likely than previously thought or readily manageable by donor selection or recipient management strategies. In this context, we suggest that the national regulatory authorities worldwide should re-examine their guidelines and regulations regarding xenotransplantation, so as to better enable design and conduct of safe and informative clinical trials of cell and organ xenotransplantation when and as supported by the preclinical data. We identify specific topics that we suggest require reconsideration.