eGenesis Plans Pig Heart Transplants for Babies with Life-Threatening Heart Defects

eGenesis to begin transplanting genetically modified pig hearts into babies with life-threatening heart defects, offering hope to address organ shortage crisis.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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eGenesis Plans Pig Heart Transplants for Babies with Life-Threatening Heart Defects

eGenesis Plans Pig Heart Transplants for Babies with Life-Threatening Heart Defects

eGenesis, an American biotech company, is set to begin transplanting pig hearts into babies with life-threatening heart defects later this year. The groundbreaking procedure, known as xenotransplantation, aims to eliminate organ donor waiting lists and save the lives of thousands of babies who die annually from critical congenital heart failure.

The company's chief executive, Mike Curtis, believes this large-scale effort is achievable, although he acknowledges it won't happen immediately. eGenesis is currently conducting live trials for the procedure at their plant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The trials involve transplanting genetically modified pig hearts into the bodies of babies with severe heart defects.

Why this matters: The success of this xenotransplantation procedure could transform the field of organ transplantation, offering hope to patients who face long waiting lists and limited donor availability. It has the potential to save countless lives, particularly those of babies born with critical heart defects who often have limited treatment options.

The concept of xenotransplantation gained significant attention last year when Rick Slayman became the first person to be discharged from a hospital after receiving a kidney transplant from a genetically modified pig at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The pig kidney, developed by eGenesis, underwent 69 genetic modifications to enhance compatibility with human bodies and eliminate the risk of infection from pig retroviruses.

The success of Slayman's transplant demonstrated the potential of xenotransplantation to address the critical issue of organ shortage. In the United States alone, over 100,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant, with approximately 17 individuals dying each day while awaiting a donor organ. Xenotransplantation could help alleviate this crisis and provide hope for thousands of patients, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds who face disproportionate challenges in accessing kidney transplants.

eGenesis' planned pig heart transplants for babies mark another significant step forward in the field of xenotransplantation. "This is a large-scale effort that we believe is achievable," said Mike Curtis, emphasizing the company's commitment to making this life-saving procedure a reality for the thousands of babies who die each year from congenital heart failure.

Key Takeaways

  • eGenesis to begin pig heart transplants in babies with heart defects this year
  • Xenotransplantation aims to eliminate organ donor waiting lists and save lives
  • eGenesis conducted live trials of genetically modified pig hearts in babies
  • Successful pig kidney transplant at MGH demonstrates xenotransplantation's potential
  • eGenesis' pig heart transplants mark a significant step in xenotransplantation