End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) occurs when the function of the kidneys can no longer keep a person alive. ESRD must be treated by dialysis (a kidney machine) or a better and less costly kidney transplant. However, the medical need for kidney organs exceeds supply because of the shortage of human kidney donors.
Pig kidneys are similar to human kidneys but are rejected by the human immune system if transplanted into humans. By applying new gene editing technology to inactivate pig genes that are responsible for the immune rejection of transplanted organs, NZeno would produce pigs with kidneys that can be transplanted into patients to restore kidney function and health.
The high health status of New Zealand’s pigs has made it possible for this country to be a leader in the development of pig tissues for treating human disease. The founders of NZeno have experience in developing pig cells for diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. The New Zealand health authority (Medsafe) has approved the transplantation of pig cells for human clinical studies.