pig heart

Thanks to science today, anyone who needs a heart transplant no longer has to wait years to get a donor.

Now heart transplantation is being done in a very easy way. The new transplants will be from pigs to humans.

David Bennett is 57 years old and has had several heart transplant attempts, as happens with another 110 thousand patients a year in the United States,

This man was diagnosed with terminal heart disease. He was deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant. The University of Maryland Medicine explained that there was a possibility: using a pig’s heart until his options were exhausted, making him the first person in history to receive this type of transplant and well-developed after the first days. Action taken. Doctors report that he is awake and already talking to his caregivers.

For this procedure, the first of its kind, the surgeon used a genetically modified animal’s organ to eliminate potential damage, reject the recipient, and stop the organ from growing.

Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center received a special permit from the United States Food and Drug Administration, FDA, on the grounds that if Bennett had not been hanged, he would have died.

Transplants can make a big difference in the lives of many people around the world. Reducing organ deficiency in the face of over 110,000 Americans and which claims 6,000 lives each year.

In Mexico, the institution that performs the most heart transplants per year is Social Security, but it is very difficult to find a donor.

Thousands of Mexicans are waiting for a donor, and even once a donor appears, meaning they have died within a few hours, the heart or other organs must be manipulated and taken care of in a certain way. so that they can work for the transplant. ,

The fact that organs can be transplanted from pigs genetically manipulated to adapt to humans is good news for many people who have been waiting years to become candidates for transplant.

In the United States alone, 3,800 people had heart transplants last year. But many people are left without donors. That crisis means 17 people die every day in the United States waiting for organ transplants. There are no statistics in this regard in Mexico.

This process of transplanting animal organs to help humans, called xenotransplantation, was long believed to be common, until now using only pig heart valves.

advanced implants

Whereas, in October 2021, the successful transplant of a pig kidney to a person was announced. The operation was by far the most advanced experiment in the field. But the beneficiary on that occasion was a brain-dead woman with no hope of recovery and who was assisted by New York University.

The heart of the pig that helped Bennett was not chosen at random, it was given by the Revivcor company, which has been in this scientific development for two decades. The Blacksburg, Virginia-based company was formed in 2003 from the British company PPL Therapeutics, which was involved in the creation of Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, in 1996.

Rivivicor raises pigs that are the result of a true genetic goldsmith. Scientists inactivate a gene related to heart development to facilitate its fit into the human chest, and block three other genes that are linked to the rapid production of defenses that lead to rejection of pig organs. cause.

In addition, six human genes have been inserted into the genomes of these pigs so that their tissues can be accepted by people. Revivicor is now in the hands of businessman Martin Rothblatt, who is the CEO of United Therapeutics, the US company that bought Revivicor in 2011.

Xenotransplantation can save thousands of lives, but it carries a unique set of risks, including the possibility of triggering a dangerous immune response. These reactions can trigger immediate rejection of the organ with life-threatening consequences for the patient.

The procedure was first tried in the 1980s, but was largely abandoned after the famous case of Stephanie Fay Beauclair at Loma Linda University in California, better known as Baby Fay.

The baby, born with a fatal heart condition, received a baboon heart transplant and died within a month of the procedure due to rejection by the immune system. While American surgeon Keith Rimsma transplanted chimpanzee kidneys to 13 people between 1963 and 1964. All patients died from rejection or infection, although a 23-year-old teacher lived for about nine months. and an American girl who endured 21 days with a transplanted baboon heart in 1984.

But it is also a fact that human organ transplants can be rejected.

Currently, thanks to genetic modification, the animal’s organ may be more suitable for humans and this is due to studies by the French biochemist Emmanuel Charpentier and the American chemist Jennifer Doudna, which showed that the CRISPR mechanism can be used as a universal tool. Which is why he won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The system can be programmed to direct it to any point on the DNA strand, cut it, and combine a plaster with another piece of DNA, like a word processor.

CRISPR is present in thousands of laboratories around the world. The scientific community works to correct faulty genes in inherited diseases. There is debate as to whether it is ethical to modify the genome of an egg or sperm so that a person is born free of malformation.

In China they have already used the technique to modify a type of white blood cell and attempt to enhance the immune response of people with terminal lung cancer. Similar trials are underway in the United States with myeloma, sarcoma, and melanoma patients.

With regard to organ donation, according to a study by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, it is estimated that those available meet only one-tenth of the world’s needs.

The World Health Organization estimates that about 130,000 transplants are performed on the planet a year, which is less than 10% of what is needed. In 2020, about 120 thousand organ transplants were performed on the planet, 18% less than in the previous year, according to the World Registry, managed by the ONT, with data from 82 countries.

This reduction is due to restrictions put in place by COVID-19, which prevented many people from moving, leading to a huge reduction in traffic accidents, the traditional source of organs, leading to the search for alternatives.

One of the doubts caused by pig heart transplants is that it serves to enrich companies and isn’t really focused on helping humans who need a new organ, but the reality is That research has cost millions of dollars to conduct, if they work, it would be great news for people who need transplants and can’t get one.

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