Chirurgen verbinden erfolgreich Schweineniere mit Mensch

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54 Stunden lief das Experiment an einer hirntoten Frau, die Niere soll sofort normal gearbeitet haben. Kommen bald massenhaft Ersatzorgane aus Tieren?

© Foto: Joe Carrotta (NYU Langone Health/AP/Keystone) Die Urinproduktion habe sofort eingesetzt: Chirurg Robert Montgomery während der Operation im September.

In einer gut zweistündigen Operation haben Chirurgen die Niere eines genetisch veränderten Schweins an den Blutkreislauf einer hirntoten Frau angeschlossen. Nahezu augenblicklich habe das Organ angefangen zu arbeiten, sagte Robert Montgomery von der New York University, der das Team geleitet hat. Die Operation fand im September statt, zuerst hatte am Dienstag die amerikanische Tageszeitung USA Today darüber berichtet. Nach 54 Stunden beendete das Forscherteam den Versuch und schaltete die lebenserhaltenden Maschinen der Frau ab.

Angehörige der hirntoten Frau hatten dem Versuch zugestimmt. Experten des Unternehmens Revivicor hatten das Schwein als Organspender gezüchtet und ein Gen im Erbgut des Tiers ausgeschaltet. Ohne diese Veränderung reagiert das menschliche Immunsystem nahezu umgehend und aggressiv auf das tierische Organ.

Weltweit arbeiten zahlreiche Forschergruppen und Unternehmen an sogenannten Xenotransplantaten. Das sind Organe, die von Tieren in Menschen verpflanzt werden sollen, um den weltweiten Mangel an Spenderorganen zu beheben. Doch die Transplantation über Artengrenzen hinweg birgt nicht nur grosse ethische Probleme, sondern ist auch medizinisch alles andere als einfach.

Die Urinproduktion habe praktisch sofort eingesetzt

Die Reaktionen auf das Experiment fallen gemischt aus. Manche sehen darin einen wichtigen Fortschritt in Richtung klinischer Studien mit tierischen Organen an lebenden Patienten. Auf andere wirkt der Eingriff wie ein Publicity-Stunt. Auch hat Montgomery seine Arbeit bislang noch nicht in einem Fachjournal veröffentlicht. 54 Stunden seien ein viel zu kurzer Zeitraum und zu einer möglichen Übertragung von Schweineviren erlaube dieser Versuch wohl kaum Aussagen, kritisieren Fachleute. Ins Schweineerbgut integrierte Viren, eine der Hauptgefahren bei Xenotransplantationen, wurden nicht aus dem Erbgut des Spendertiers entfernt.

Der Herzchirurg Bruno Reichart, der 1981 die erste Herztransplantation in Deutschland vollführte, schätzt den wissenschaftlichen Wert des Versuchs in den USA als «nicht besonders hoch» ein. Die Niere war zwar am Blutkreislauf der Frau angeschlossen, aber ausserhalb des Körpers. So bleibe unklar, ob sie auch tatsächlich die für den Organismus so wichtige Filterleistung erbringen könne. Denn die Nieren der Frau arbeiteten weiter.

Durch Fortschritte bei der Immunsuppression, aber auch bei der Züchtung der tierischen Spenderorgane halten viele Expertinnen und Experten mittlerweile die Grundlagen für solide genug, um erste klinische Versuche mit Tierorganen in Menschen zu starten. Herzklappen von Rindern oder Schweinen werden bereits seit Jahren verpflanzt, bald sollen ganze Organe folgen.

Bruno Reichart warnt jedoch vor übereilter Aktion. «Xenotransplantation kann nur funktionieren, wenn die Gesellschaft dahintersteht.» Er befürchtet, dass durch fragwürdige Experimente das ganze Forschungsfeld in Misskredit geraten könnte.

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