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Gene-Edited Pig Heart Transplanted

Surgeons at the University of Maryland have transplanted a gene-edited pig heart into a human recipient, the Associated Press reports. It adds that the patient, David Bennett, is doing well three days after his surgery.

Previous xenotransplantation attempts have largely failed after recipients rejected the animal organs. But in this case, the heart came from a pig that had undergone gene editing to remove a sugar that is responsible for most animal organ rejections by human bodies, it says. The Baltimore Sun adds that another gene was knocked out to prevent the pig heart from continuing to grow after transplantation and that six other genes were inserted to promote the organ's acceptance.

"I think you can characterize it as a watershed event," David Klassen, chief medical officer of United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit that oversees organ transplants in the US, tells the AP.

The AP notes the heart was provided by Revivicor, which previously provided a gene-edited pig kidney that was transplanted into a brain-dead human recipient without triggering that patient's immune system.

Bennett received the heart under a compassionate use emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, as he was ineligible for a human heart transplant and had no other options, according to the AP. "It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice," Bennett said before his surgery, according to a university press release.

The Scan

Nature Papers on Long Reads for Bacterial Genomes, Zebrafish Atlas, Hypothalamic Aging in Mammals

In Nature this week: near-finished microbial genomes without polishing, zebrafish functional annotation program, and more. 

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.