Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Not Yet Clear Why

Why the man who received a gene-edited pig heart transplant died remains unclear, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The man, David Bennett, received the transplant in January but while he at first appeared to be doing well after surgery, Bennett died about two months later.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine's Muhammad Mohiuddin and his colleagues report that while Bennett died of heart failure, they are as yet unsure as to why. As the Wall Street Journal notes, they have a couple of ideas that they are investigating, such as whether antibodies they administered to treat infection attacked the heart or whether a temporary halt to immune-suppressing drug treatment led to rejection.

Another possibility is that a pig virus detected in the heart — porcine cytomegalovirus — that has been found in baboon transplants to lead to an inflammatory response may have had a role in the heart's failure.

Despite this, some researchers tell the WSJ that more clinical trials in humans are needed. "Mr. Bennett's life should accelerate the move to trials rather than his death slowing things down," Duke University School of Medicine's Allan Kirk tells it. "The question holding the field back was, can a pig organ provide life support for a human — and the answer is yes."

Filed under

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.