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The last few months have seen a flurry of firsts for the field of xenotransplantation, sparking new hope that the science of making human-friendly organs from pigs — and with it the potential to solve the severe shortage of donated human organs — is finally ready for prime time.

The companies now in the race to start human trials are a mix of old and new: Revivicor, eGenesis, Recombinetics. But one company has been notably absent from the recent frenzy — Qihan Biotech, the brainchild of Luhan Yang, the intensely driven CRISPR superstar whose work kicked the xeno field up a few dozen notches.


A few years ago, Yang took her mission to use CRISPR to create designer pigs whose organs can be transplanted into people to China. But after a series of unforeseen obstacles, including the outbreak of a deadly pig disease, Yang’s company, Qihan Biotech, quietly put its xeno work on hold and pivoted to cell therapy, she told STAT.

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