We all remember the big news earlier this year when a 57-year-old patient with heart disease was given a new contract for life, thanks to a genetically engineered pig heart. It was a breakthrough surgery that extended the man’s life and mark the first time Pig hearts have been transplanted. Although the man died after two months (possibly due to swine virus), A new study finds that the heart of a wound is beating more like a human heart than doctors expected.
Preliminary research will be presented at American Heart Association Scientific Sessions showed that compared with pig-to-pig heart transplantation, xenot-transplanted pig hearts propagated more slowly than expected. In fact, the electrical signals of the new man’s heartbeat more closely resembled that of a human heart, and even outpaced those signals in some metrics.
“It’s really a novel finding” that electrocardiogram (EKG) measurements that record the heart’s electrical signal are so different from the usual readings of a pig’s heart, ” Timm Dickfeld, an electrophysiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who led the study, said in a press release. These measurements are extended to what we see in the human heart, he added, and often the measurements even extend beyond what we consider normal in the human heart. “
Following the man’s surgery, doctors measured daily EKGs of the transgenic pig’s hearts, finding that two key components of the signal persisted longer than usual after transplantation. In humans, says Dickfeld, prolonged periods of time for these measurements could indicate electrical or cardiac disease. Future research will want to look at how measuring EKGs can inform doctors about a patient’s risk of organ rejection or other negative outcomes.
Although the idea of a heart transplant from a pig to a human has circulated in the popular imagination In decades, only three such procedures have taken place. After the surgery of David Bennett Sr. in January, researchers at NYU Langone Health Pig heart transplant into two brain dead people and study organs for 72 hours. All three pig hearts are genetically engineered to prevent them from growing inside the smaller human chest cavity and to reduce the percentage of organs being discarded. With hundreds of thousands of Americans Doctors are waiting for organ transplants amid a shortage of donors, and doctors hope that one day xenot transplants can make a difference and save lives.