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Maximizing Longevity of Pig Heart Transplants in Humans

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Maximizing Longevity of Pig Heart Transplants in Humans

Researchers are attempting to strike a delicate balance when it comes to organ transplants: how to prevent infections while suppressing the immune system. In one case, a patient named Bennett experienced muscle cell damage in his pig organ transplant due to an immunoglobulin therapy designed for individuals with compromised immune systems. Now, doctors are taking new measures to ensure that patient Faucette’s new heart is not rejected. They have developed a more sensitive test to detect small amounts of pig virus DNA and are treating Faucette with traditional immunosuppressive drugs, as well as an investigational antibody therapy called tegoprubart. In the coming weeks, it will become clear if the transplanted pig heart will continue to function properly.

The recent transplant of a genetically modified pig heart into patient Faucette was made possible through emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. This form of approval, known as “compassionate use,” is granted when there are no other approved medical options available for a patient with a serious or life-threatening condition. Although Eledon Pharmaceuticals’ drug, tegoprubart, was not available during Bennett’s transplant, it has since been tested in over 100 individuals and has been shown to increase the lifespan of transplanted pig organs in non-human primates. The success of this case and other individual cases of pig-to-human transplants will provide valuable evidence for future clinical trials involving multiple patients.

While there is no guarantee that pig-to-human transplants will be successful every time, these unique cases are expected to contribute significantly to medical knowledge in the field. The hope is that Faucette will be able to live a long life with his xenograft, and the insights gained from these groundbreaking procedures will pave the way for more formal clinical trials in the future. As researchers continue to navigate the balance between preventing infections and suppressing the immune system, they remain optimistic about the potential benefits of pig organ transplants in saving and improving lives.

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