- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The University of Alabama at Birmingham is joining a select group of schools that are researching the possibility of using genetically modified pig tissue for human kidney transplants.

UAB is receiving a $19.5 million grant from United Therapeutics Corp. to begin a xenotransplantation program. School officials announced the five-year grant on Friday.

UAB is a leading kidney transplant center, and the program aims to transplant genetically modified kidneys created from pig tissue within five years.

The work could save lives since thousands of people die each year awaiting transplants.

Researcher Joseph Tector has been recruited from Indiana University to lead the new program at UAB.

Five other centers are researching xeno transplants in the United States. Those include Columbia, Duke, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

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