A pig virus in the xenoheart. How bad is the news?

As you probably know, the first patient with a pig heart died two months after the transplant surgery. You probably heard also that a porcine cytomegalovirus (PCMV) may have contributed to the death. However, if you are still wondering how bad is the news for the future of xentransplantation, Linda Scobie from Glasgow Caledonian University is the one to listen to. She leads a research group interested in viral zoonoses in the context of novel technologies such as xenotransplantation, and the contribution and/or reactivation of viruses in chronic disease conditions. Professor Scobie is a member of the World Health Organisation committee for the global consultation on regulatory requirements for xenotransplantation trials. I reached her by email for a feature just published in Le Scienze, the Italian edition of Scientific American. Below you can read her answers.

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Back to the basics of xenohearts

UHeart™ (photo credit United Therapeutics)

As you probably know, on January 7 at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore  a 57 years old man named David Bennett became the first human to have his heart replaced with that of a CRISPRed pig. But what does make a xenoheart suitable for transplantation?

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