USA: Pig-to-human heart transplants

Doctors at New York University (NYU) Langone Health have successfully transplanted two genetically engineered pig hearts into recently deceased people, the team announced this week.

The surgeries, known as xenotransplants, were performed on June 16 and July 6 at NYU Langone, the team said in a release.

The hearts were procured from pigs that had 10 genetic modifications, including four porcine gene “knockouts” to prevent rejection and abnormal organ growth, as well as six human transgenes (“knock-ins”) to promote expression of proteins that regulate important biologic pathways that can be disrupted by incompatibilities between pigs and humans.

The pig hearts were transplanted into recently deceased donors maintained on ventilator support.

No signs of early rejection were observed in either organ, and the hearts functioned normally with standard post-transplant medications and without additional mechanical support, according to the team.

Alex Reyentovich, medical director of heart transplantation and director of NYU Langone’s advanced heart failure program, said these latest advances in xenotransplantation move the field closer to realizing a new supply of organs for those facing life-threatening disease. ■

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