Genetic Engineering Platform Hopes To Develop Pig Hearts for Human Transplantation Interview with:
Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Program
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

 Dr. Mohiuddin: There are around 150,000 patients waiting for organ transplants. Unfortunately, the supply of human donor organs will never be able to meet this demand. We are trying to explore if animal (pig) organs can be used for these patients. Pig organs are rejected within a few minutes by humans or baboons. Therefore, we along with our industrial partner Revivicor Inc. have modified the pig genetics to knock out molecules harmful to humans and have also expressed some human genes in these pigs. Through these modifications, along with the use of novel target-specific immunosuppressive drugs, we have extended pig heart survival in the abdomen for almost 3 years. In this experimental model, the heart is transplanted in the abdomen while the original heart stays in the chest cavity. The major advantage of this model is that the baboon is kept alive, despite the rejection of the transplanted organ in the abdomen. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Mohiuddin: That there is hope for these patients waiting for human organs and this valuable treatment option is close to becoming a reality. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Mohiuddin: The next step is to test this genetically modified pig organ along with the novel immunosuppression in a transplant model where the baboon heart will be replaced by the pig heart . If this pig heart is able to sustain the baboon’s life, then we will proceed to clinical trials. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Mohiuddin: These experiments are very expensive and thus require major funding resources. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Nature 527152–154 (12 November 2015)


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Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MD (2016). Genetic Engineering Platform Hopes To Develop Pig Hearts for Human Transplantation

Last Updated on April 7, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD