The report says the first pig-to-human heart transplant may have failed due to the pig virus

The report says the first pig-to-human heart transplant may have failed due to the pig virus

A patient’s doctor has found that a Maryland man who died without an apparent cause two months after receiving his first genetically modified pig heart transplant may have fallen victim to a pig virus linked to the failed transplant. MIT Technology Review.


  • David Bennett Sr., who had a terminal heart disease, received a cross-species transplant on January 7 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and initially appeared to respond well before unexpectedly deteriorating and dying on March 8.
  • Dr. Bartley Griffiths, Bennett’s transplant surgeon, said at an American Transplantation Society webinar last month that the heart was infected with CMV in pigs, which may have caused Bennett’s death. MIT Technology Review reported Wednesday.
  • This virus, which can cause respiratory symptoms and pregnancy complications in pigs, has been linked to the failure of organ transplants between pigs and baboons.
  • The pig was bred by biotech company Revivicor, which has modified the pig’s genome to reduce the risk of Bennett’s body rejecting the heart and to prevent excessive tissue growth after transplantation.
  • If the virus causes Bennett’s death, it is a hurdle that can likely be overcome in future operations, he said during the webinar.
  • Revivicor declined to comment on the virus for the MIT Technology Review, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.

main context

The possibility of swine virus adapting to infect humans after transplant worries researchers, who hope that cross-species transplants will one day help solve a severe shortage of human organ donors. Because of the risk of cross-species transmission of serious diseases, animal transplant recipients and personal contacts — including pets — should be screened at regular intervals, a group of transplant researchers said in a paper published by the National Center for Biotechnology in 2013. Information (NCBI). However, swine CMV is not thought to infect humans, Jay Fishman, a specialist in transplant-related infections at Massachusetts General Hospital, told MIT Technology Review. Baboons have been used to test pig transplant techniques for humans, and have demonstrated the danger that CMV poses to pigs. A 2015 study published by the NCBI found that kidney transplants between pigs and baboons failed nearly four times when the virus was present, and a 2020 Nature study found that heart transplants between pigs and baboons infected with the virus failed quickly, while heart transplants without The virus can last more than six months. The authors of the Nature study said infected hearts had extremely high levels of the virus, possibly due to deliberate suppression of the baboon’s immune system during transplantation or due to the absence of the immune system. Pork virus. According to the researchers, it is likely that a human who had a heart infected with CMV in pigs would have experienced the same reduction in survival time.

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Article translated from the American Forbes magazine – Author: Zachary Snowdon Smith

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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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