- Heart failure is a global pandemic with about 26 million people affected over the globe
- Xenotransplantation is the complicated transplant of animal organs into human bodies
- Modified pigs hearts could be used for human transplants within just three years.
Modified pig hearts could be transplanted into human beings, said Sir Terence English, the pioneering surgeon who performed the first transplantation in 1979. Forty years later, his protege will try to replace a human kidney with that of a pig.
This could be the foundation for more complicated transplant of animal organs into human bodies using the process called Xenotransplantation.
If this process is successful with porcine kidneys, it will pave the way for animal hearts in just a few years. This will transform the issue. Pigs hearts are structurally similar to human hearts; they are now used for developing new treatments. There are hope, doctors will revolutionize how they treat heart failure, a global pandemic with about 26 million people affected over the globe.
Hopes for a much sought after treatment raised after a genetic therapy showed promise in pigs. Delivering a small piece of genetic material called the microRNA-199 into the heart damaged by an attack made the cells to regenerate. Myocardial infarction, the medical term for a heart attack, is the main cause of heart failure. It occurs when there is sudden blockage of cardiac coronary arteries; so when a person survives a heart attack, it causes permanent heart tissue damage. About 900,000 people are living with heart failure in the UK, and millions have high blood pressure, both of which are contributory factors for heart attack.
A treatment that helps the heart to repair itself after a heart attack is the much sought after treatment by cardiologists. This study helps the advent of future treatments that are not far fetched. When genetic material, the microRNA-199 was delivered into pigs' heart after myocardial infarction, there was complete recovery after a month. But the pigs died because the genetic material continued to be expressed in an uncontrolled manner.
Scientists are working to overcome obstacles before the genetic technique can be tested in human heart attack patients.