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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Successful Transplants of Genetically Modified Pig Hearts Into Brain-Dead Humans

Researchers announced that NYU Langone Health surgeons have successfully transplanted genetically engineered pig hearts into two brain-dead patients. This is the first pig heart transplant in a living person. Experts say it’s an encouraging step for the medical field.

Following this organ transplant milestone, the researchers said they believe they are getting one step closer to the long-term goal of using pork parts to address the shortage of human organs for transplantation.

Doctors said the hearts showed normal heart function in the days following the surgery. There were no signs of rejection during the three-day experiments in June and July.

It was revealed that the experiments followed the death in March of a 57-year-old man with terminal heart disease who made history two months earlier at the University of Maryland as the first person to receive a genetically engineered pig heart. The reasons why his new heart ultimately failed are still unclear.

Nader Moazami, the surgical director of heart transplantation at NYU Langone Transplant Institute, oversaw the procedures. Moazami said the institute hopes to move forward with clinical trials using the organs in the future.

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In a statement, Moazami said, “It brings me great excitement to tell you that the heart function was excellent. We had to make some surgical technical changes at the time of the transplant.”

Moazami further explained: “Partly it’s because the pig’s heart is very similar, but it’s not identical to the human heart. Partly because in the first operation we did, the heart was slightly underpowered and we had to make some changes.”

The researchers said the pig hearts were designed by Revivicor Inc and screened them for viruses using an advanced monitoring protocol.

Xenograft is safer in brain-dead recipients

For now, researchers believe xenograft is safer in brain-dead patients than in live patients. Also, more informative because biopsies can be done more often.

“We could determine it in extraordinary detail by doing biopsies, looking at it under the microscope, doing special stains, analyzing, you know, the …, from a molecular point of view, what was going on in that organ. So the detail, the amount we have could learning was tremendous, ”Moazami said.

NYU researchers also transplanted pig kidneys into two brain-dead recipients in 2021.

 

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