The first human transplanted pig heart carried a virus

University of Maryland School of Medicine / AFP

For the first time, surgeons have successfully transplanted a pig’s heart into a human (photo of the operation, January 7, 2022)

Health – It has been welcomed all over the world. On January 7, 2022, the surgeons succeeded in it Heart transplantation in a human patient fromPig genetically modified. The joy, however, was short-lived Faculty of medicine from the University of Maryland has announced David Bennett dies two months laterTuesday, March 8th.

To date, the cause of his death has not been clearly established. Based on a new report (not yet officially released), MIT Technology Review He now claims that a possible answer has been found.

swine virus in origin?

“We are beginning to understand why he died,” he explains to MIT review Bartley Griffiths, the transplant surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who performed the transplant. In fact, it could have been Mister Bennett Pig’s heart infected with virus pigs are called cytomegalovirus, A preventable infection It can have devastating effects on implants.

Cytomegalovirus is virus Internal (coming from within, editor’s note) for all pigs. However, the researchers explained that they did not detect any transmission of this virus to humans or non-human primates in previous studies. However, for Dr. Griffith, this virus “may have been the actor, or it could be the actor, that started it all”.

In fact, from Previous searches Testing of pig transplant techniques on baboons showed kidney transplants failed about four times when the notorious swine virus (cytomegalovirus) was present. Other Study 2020 Also performed on baboons led to similar results.

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However, removing all traces of the virus is complex, because the donor’s immune systems are generally intentionally suppressed, in order to reduce the risk of rejection. Indeed, the body’s defense system, human or animal, does not differentiate between foreign elements, be it a virus or an organ.

Imperfect process, but a big step forward

Unprecedented, the process made it possible for the first time to show that an animal’s heart can continue to function within a human without immediate rejection. To do this, scientists genetically modified the pig to remove the animal’s genes, while adding human genes.

This was the last operation for David Bennett, who was declared ineligible for a human transplant. “Either die or this is a transplant. I want to live. I know it’s risky, but it was my last option,” the main interested party explained.

If the end result is dramatic, the operation nonetheless allows for new hopes, according to Bartley Griffiths: “It’s a major surgical advance and brings us a little closer to solving the problem of organ deficiency.” In fact in the United States, approximately 110,000 Americans are currently on the waiting list for an organ transplant and more than 6,000 people who need a transplant die each year in the country.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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