The hearts showed formal function after the surgery, no signs of rejection were experienced.
New York University (NYU) surgeons successfully transplanted two genetically-engineered pig hearts into two brain-dead patients. The milestone is a step closer to the long-term goal of using pig organs to address the human organ shortage for transplants. The hearts exhibited normal heart function following the surgery, there were no signs of rejection during the three-day experiments in both June and July. The experiments followed the death of the 57-year old man who was the first person to receive the first genetically modified pig heart at the University of Maryland. "Our goal is to integrate the practices used in a typical, everyday heart transplant, only with a nonhuman organ that will function normally without additional aid from untested devices or medicines," stated Dr. Nader Moazami, surgical director of heart transplantation at NYU Langone.
The hearts were produced from pig hearts engineered by Revivicor Inc and were screened for viruses with the use of enhanced monitoring protocols, noted the researchers. There was no evidence of the virus called cytomegalovirus which was detected in the blood of the Maryland man and may have resulted in his death. There were four genetic modifications performed on the pigs to avoid rejection as well as abnormal organ growth. There were also six modifications to avert incompatibilities between humans and pigs. "We could determine that in tremendous detail by taking biopsies, looking at it under a microscope, doing special staining, analyzing, you know, the…, from a molecular standpoint, what was happening in that organ. So the detail, the amount we could learn was tremendous," added Moazami said.