UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Discovery of the natural anti-Gal antibody and its past and future relevance to medicine

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

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Document Type



Transplantation, Heterologous


Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Biochemistry | Immunopathology | Surgery


This is a personal account of the discovery of the natural anti-Gal antibody, the most abundant natural antibody in humans, the reciprocal distribution of this antibody and its ligand the alpha-gal epitope in mammals and the immunological barrier this antibody has formed in porcine to human xenotransplantation. This barrier has been overcome in the recent decade with the generation of alpha1,3-galactosyltransferase gene-knockout pigs. However, anti-Gal continues to be relevant in medicine as it can be harnessed for various therapeutic effects. Anti-Gal converts tumor lesions injected with alpha-gal glycolipids into vaccines that elicit a protective anti-tumor immune response by in situ targeting of tumor cells for uptake by antigen-presenting cells. This antibody further accelerates wound and burn healing by interaction with alpha-gal nanoparticles applied to injured areas and induction of rapid recruitment and activation of macrophages. Anti-Gal/alpha-gal nanoparticle immune complexes may further induce rapid recruitment and activation of macrophages in ischemic myocardium and injured nerves, thereby inducing tissue regeneration and prevention of fibrosis.

DOI of Published Version



Xenotransplantation. 2013 May/June;20(3): 138–147. doi: 10.1111/xen.12034. Link to article on publisher's site

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