The second patient to be transplanted with a genetically modified pig heart at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), Baltimore, is said to be stable and doing well after the September 22 operation. The organ passed an early test by avoiding hyperacute rejection.
Physicians for the patient, a 58-year-old former lab tech repeatedly turned down for standard allograft transplantation, say they are making good use of lessons from last year’s case of David Bennett, who survived in hospital with difficulty for 2 months after receiving the first such heart at the center in January 2022.
Bennett’s clinical course had been promising at first but grew turbulent with repeated bouts of infection followed by adjustments to his aggressive immunosuppressant regimen and other complications.
It was also learned weeks after the xenotransplant operation that the heart from the genetically modified donor pig had carried a porcine cytomegalovirus to Bennett’s body, although there was never evidence that the virus infected other organs or played a major role in his death.
The new xenotransplant recipient, Lawrence Faucette of Frederick, Maryland, is benefitting from that experience, which was documented in journal reports, a series of articles in theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology, and other places.
Faucette had been turned down by UMMC “and several other leading transplant hospitals due to his pre-existing peripheral vascular disease and complications with internal bleeding,” notes a UMMC press release describing his procedure.
The patient “is currently breathing on his own, and his heart is functioning well without any assistance from supportive devices,” says the statement.
Despite a few setbacks, Faucette is “on the right track,” said Muhammad M. Mohiuddin, MBBS, surgeon and xenotransplantation program director at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), in an interview.
“We’re taking one day at a time. His immune system is still intact, despite the heavy immune suppression,” he told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology. His heart didn’t carry a virus and “has not shown any signs of rejection so far.”
The UMSOM team, Mohiuddin said, “is very hopeful that we will be able to at least mobilize the patient, and he can be discharged. But it’s a little too early to call.”
Faucette, as part of his immunosuppressant regimen, is receiving tegoprubart (Eledon Pharmaceuticals), an experimental antibody that blocks CD40 ligand. His predecessor Bennett, in contrast, had received a blocker of the CD40 receptor (Kiniksa Pharmaceuticals) along with other more familiar immunosuppressants.
The new anti-CD40-ligand blocker, Eledon said, is in phase 1 studies looking at efficacy in patients with conventional kidney transplants.
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