Paving the way for a historic procedure

MU researcher Randall Prather’s work on pig genetics may soon help thousands of people waiting for organ transplants.

Jan. 14 , 2021


Kenny Gerling: Last year, surgeons successfully connected a pig kidney to a human recipient. It was headline news around the world and a huge step toward making transplants from pigs to people a reality.

But before the procedure, researchers first needed kidneys that wouldn’t be rejected by the human body. To do that, they used a breakthrough procedure pioneered at the University of Missouri.

In the early 2000s — Randall Prather, a Curators Distinguished Professor at MU and director of the National Swine Resource and Research Center, and his collaborators were able to remove a molecule on the surface of a pig’s cell. Prather said the applications of that discovery were almost endless.

Prather: “To be able to do that then opened up the idea of knocking out other genes for other uses.”

Gerling: Prather’s work continues to make MU a destination for researchers who are trying to improve the health of both animals and humans.

Prather: “Since that time, we’ve made some 90 different genetic modifications in pigs. All of this is to come up with treatments and therapies.”

Gerling: For more on this research, visit

I’m Kenny Gerling, with a Spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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