For the first time, a pig’s heart has been transplanted, edited by genes into a human

The news: The heart of a pig has been transplanted into a human being for the first time. A man with terminal heart disease named David Bennett Sr. received a transplant from a genetically modified pig heart during an eight-hour operation on Friday, January 7 at the University of Maryland Medical Center, which issued a statement yesterday in night. The operation was a last-ditch attempt by Bennett, 57, who had been ruled ineligible for a conventional heart transplant. He had been in the hospital for more than six weeks before the life-threatening arrhythmia procedure. “It was to die or do this transplant,” he said in a press release. “I want to live. I know it’s a dark shot, but it’s my last choice.”

Surgeon Bartley P. Griffith, left, and patient, David Bennett

The technique: Ten donor pig genes were altered before the transplant could be performed. Three of these genes are responsible for the rejection of pig organs by humans, so they were eliminated. Six genes were inserted to help control the immune acceptance of the pig’s heart and an additional gene was removed to stop the excessive growth of the pig’s heart tissue.

The Maryland team also used a new experimental drug to suppress the immune system and prevent rejection, and a new machine that pushed the liquid through the tissue to make sure the pig’s heart remained viable until the procedure. . According to the New York Times, the FDA advanced the emergency procedure on New Year’s Eve.

What follows: Organ demand is huge, with nearly 107,000 people on the U.S. waiting list for transplants, 17 of whom die every day, according to the Federal Agency for Health Resources and Services.

The first results look promising for Bennett, who is expected to come out of the heart-lung bypass machine he relied on to keep him alive today (January 11). It will be closely monitored over the next few days and weeks for any signs. of rejection or infection.

New border: While xenotransplantation, the process of transplanting organs or tissues from animals to humans, has a long and often unsuccessful history, new gene editing technologies make it more viable. Pig edited by genes in last week’s operation was supplied by Revivicor, one of several biotechnology companies working to develop pig organs for transplantation into humans.

Revivicor was also behind a successful transplant of a pig kidney into a human patient last October, which was a major milestone in demonstrating the viability of its techniques. In addition to Revivicor, Harvard scientist George Church co-founded a company, eGensisis, which works on the use of CRISPR gene editing to make animal organs viable for human transplantation, despite its ambitious proposed time scale has been left out.

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