It is possible that a virus derived from pigs is involved in the cause of death of the world's first 'male transplanted with a pig heart'
In January 2022, the world's first 'surgery to transplant a pig's heart into a human' was performed at the University of Maryland Medical Center in the United States. He died two months later in March. Regarding the cause of death of this male patient, Dr. Bartley Griffith, a surgeon, has revealed the possibility that 'a virus derived from pigs is involved'.
Signs of an Animal Virus Discovered in Man Who Received a Pig's Heart --The New York Times
Man who received landmark pig heart transplant died of pig virus, surgeon says | Maryland | The Guardian
Pig virus may have contributed to death of man with 1st porcine heart transplant | Live Science
Organ transplants are the only way to treat some serious illnesses, but due to the limited number of organs that can be transplanted, the problem is that people die while waiting for a transplant. Therefore, what is attracting attention is 'heterogeneous transplantation' in which animal organs are transplanted into humans, and in September 2021, the ' experiment to connect pig kidneys to the human body ' was successful.
Finally, on January 7, 2022, the world's first 'surgery to transplant a pig's heart into a human' was performed at the University of Maryland Medical Center. In general pig tissue cells, there is a gene that produces a sugar molecule called α-gal that causes acute rejection in the human body, but the pig for donors developed by Revivicor, an American regenerative medicine company, is α. It has been genetically modified to prevent -gal production and prevents rejection after transplantation. The subject of the experiment was a 57-year-old man named David Bennett, who has a severe heart disease, and was unable to transplant a human heart due to health problems. He said he agreed with.
Surgery to transplant the world's first 'pig heart' to humans is performed --GIGAZINE
The transplant operation to Mr. Bennett was successful, and after the operation, he participated in physical therapy to restore physical strength and spent time with his family. However, about 40 days after the operation, Bennett's condition deteriorated, and the doctor's treatment did not work, and he died on March 8.
The world's first 'pig heart' transplanted man died two months later-GIGAZINE
Until now, it was said that 'the exact cause of death of Mr. Bennett is under investigation', but at the webinar held on April 20, Dr. Griffith said 'a virus derived from a pig that had infected the transplanted heart'. It was revealed that it may have caused Bennett's death.
According to Dr. Griffith, a medical team investigating Bennett's health with various blood tests after surgery detected the DNA of a virus called ' butacytomegalovirus ' 20 days after surgery. thing. The low levels of DNA detected in the blood led the medical team to determine this as a laboratory error, but Bennett's condition deteriorated 43 days after surgery. As a result of the test, it was found that the DNA level of porcine cytomegalovirus present in Bennett's blood has risen sharply.
Mr. Bennett's physical condition is not caused by infection with porcine cytomegalovirus and developing some kind of disease, but ' cytokine release syndrome (cytokine storm) ' in which the immune system overreacts to porcine cytomegalovirus in the blood. It is believed that there is a high possibility of. 'Personally, Bennett responded to an inflammatory explosion with a capillary leak that filled the heart with edema, which turned into fibrous tissue, leading to severe and irreparable diastolic heart failure . I suspect it was, 'says Dr. Griffith.
Pig cytomegalovirus is not expected to infect humans, but in the absence of the pig's immune system, it can multiply in the pig's heart and enter the blood, causing an inflammatory reaction. Of course, the medical team tested the pig's heart for pathogens before transplant surgery, but these tests only detect active viruses and are inactive and latent in organs. It seems that the virus that was on it cannot be detected.
Some experts are cautious about attributed all of Bennett's death to the porcine cytomegalovirus. Joachim Denner, a virologist at the Free University of Berlin, said, 'This patient had a very serious illness. Don't forget this ... the virus may have contributed, but that's it. It may not have been the only reason. '
This transplant operation was disappointing, but if Bennett's death was caused by a virus in the transplanted heart, careful pig breeding and thorough pre-screening could avoid the risk. That. 'We're starting to learn why Bennett died,' said Dr. Griffith. 'If this is a viral infection, it's likely to be preventable in the future.'