Pig to Human Heart Transplants Could Be a Reality in 3 years
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Pig to Human Heart Transplants Could Be a Reality in 3 years

Adapted pig hearts could be possibly transplanted into individuals within three years. This is according to a report citing the surgeon who pioneered a heart transplant in the United Kingdom.

Sir Terence English, on the 40th anniversary of the first successful heart transplant, told The Sunday Telegraph that his protege from that procedure would certainly try to replace a human kidney with a pig’s this year.

Sir Terence English, who is 87-year-old said that if the result of xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to humans, then there is a chance that pig hearts would be used with good effects in humans within a few years. He added that if it works with a porcine kidney it should definitely work with a heart which will have the capability to transform many issues faced currently.

Main consideration factor here is that the anatomy and physiology of a pig’s hearts are very similar to that of a human heart. Thus they can be used as models for developing new treatments. It also leaves hopes for a successful heart attack treatment which were raised in May after a genetic therapy showed

promise in pigs.

An international team of scientists, including the scientists from the UK, found that delivering a small piece of genetic material i.e, microRNA-199 into a heart damaged by an attack caused cells to regenerate.

Myocardial infarction, which is caused as a result of the sudden blocking of one of the coronary arteries, is one of the main reason for heart failure. Survivors of heart failure are often left with permanent structural damage to their heart.

It was estimated that about 900,000 people in the UK live with heart disease. And millions more have high blood pressure as well as another risk factor in heart attacks.

Ajay Shah, the British Heart Foundation’s chair of cardiology, told the i newspaper that a treatment that helps the heart repair itself after a heart attack is the main holy grail for cardiologists. This research study will convincingly demonstrate for the first time that this might actually be feasible in case of human hearts and also will prove that it is not just a pipe dream.

During this study by the scientist team and based on the findings from which were published in the journal Nature it was clear that scientists delivered microRNA-199 into pigs after myocardial infarction. And remarkably there was an almost complete recovery of cardiac function after a month which leaves hopes for a successful human heart attack treatment.

Considerable obstacles remain in this field of study, however, the study findings can be used before the gene therapy and it can be tested on human heart attack patients. Due to the overexpression of microRNA-199  in an uncontrolled way, most of the treated pigs died after the treatment.


Ria Roy completed her Post Grad degree at the Visvesvaraya Technological University. She has a great grounding in the skills, including technical, analytical and research skills. She is a motivated life science professional with experience of working in famous research institutes