APR 07, 2016 4:37 PM PDT

Immunosuppression Improves Cross-Species Heart Transplant Survival

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Transplanting pig hearts into baboons might sound outlandish and like a science fiction novel, but this form of xenotransplantation is currently being studied as a case study in cross-species heart transplant technology. 

A new immune suppressing therapy is the current topic of discussion, with organ rejection being the primary problem in most xenotransplantation studies. There is a large-scale, severe organ shortage faced by doctors, and according to organdonor.gov, an average of 22 people die each day waiting for the organ that could have saved their life. 

In addition to serving as replacements for faulty or damaged human organs, transplantation cross-species could also serve as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders and diabetes (FDA)

In a new study conducted at the National Heart, Lungs, and Blood Institute led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published in Nature Communications, scientists are investigating the possibility that a treatment consisting of anti-CD40 antibody could be the key to helping the transplanted organ resist the immune response indefinitely, ensuring a healthy transition.
 The study recruited 5 baboons to receive pig hearts, but as an additional organ rather than a replacement. The porcine donors were genetically modified prior to the transplantation procedure to have a high tolerance to the immune response. The experimental baboons, containing both their natural hearts and the transplanted hearts, successfully received their foreign organs, with both hearts pumping healthily for a record time of 945 days.

Co-author Richard Pierson has studied xenotransplantation for over 30 years.

“We obviously have a lot more work to do, but I'm confident that eventually this will be useful to human patients,” Pierson said.
 

Source: University of Maryland School of Medicine
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JAN 21, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
JAN 21, 2020
Brain scans of teens predict their risk of binge drinking
We’ve seen teenage binge drinking widely represented in popular culture. There is, however, a dark side to what many consider harmless fun. Mounting...
JAN 19, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 19, 2020
Scientists Create Neuromuscular Organoids That Contract
This work is a breakthrough for the study of neuromuscular diseases including ALS, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis....
JAN 28, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 28, 2020
Developing a Gene Therapy to Treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
Because of a genetic mutation, people that have Duchenne muscular dystrophy lack functional copies of a protein called dystrophin....
JAN 30, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
JAN 30, 2020
How To Choose The Right DNA Testing Kit For You
One of the most exciting scientific advancements in the past decade, at least in terms of its impact on pop culture, was the sudden accessibility of home D...
FEB 10, 2020
Cardiology
FEB 10, 2020
Blocking Problem Protein Shows Promise for Preventing Heart Attacks
Over time, atherosclerosis, a disease that causes fatty plaques to build up in the arteries, limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to vital organs. Often le...
FEB 18, 2020
Microbiology
FEB 18, 2020
Newly Found Glycopeptide Antibiotics Kill Bacteria in a New Way
The overuse and misuse of antibiotics and the adaptability of microbes has created a problem that people must solve....
Loading Comments...