MONDAY, Sept. 25, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- A second human patient has received a genetically altered pig heart as he battles the ravages of end-stage heart disease. The 58-year-old man, Lawrence Faucette, received the pig organ at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. The medical team was the same one that performed the first pig transplant with another patient in January 2022.
"We are once again offering a dying patient a shot at a longer life, and we are incredibly grateful to Mr. Faucette for his bravery and willingness to help advance our knowledge of this field," Bartley Griffith, M.D., a professor of transplant surgery and clinical director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program, said in a medical center news release. Griffith transplanted the pig heart into both the first and second patients.
Faucette had been deemed ineligible for a transplant with a human heart because of preexisting peripheral vascular disease and complications with internal bleeding. A 58-year-old father of two from Frederick, Maryland, Faucette is currently breathing on his own. His heart is functioning well without supportive devices. A 20-year Navy veteran, he was a lab technician at the National Institutes of Health before retiring. Without the transplant, he would almost certainly have died from heart failure.
The xenotransplant was approved on Sept. 15 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under its single patient investigational new drug "compassionate use" pathway. The pig heart was provided by United Therapeutics Corp., through its xenotransplantation subsidiary Revivicor, based in Blacksburg, Virginia. The company has funded a $22 million research program to test pig hearts from Revivicor in baboons.
The surgical team removed the pig heart on the day of the surgery and put it in what is called the XVIVO Heart Box, which preserved it. Ten gene edits were made in the donor pig. Those involved knocking out three genes in the pig that could be involved in rejection of pig organs in the human body and one that will help prevent excessive growth of pig heart tissue. In addition, six human genes responsible for immune acceptance of the pig heart were inserted into the genome of the pig.
Faucette is also being treated with conventional anti-rejection drugs and a novel antibody therapy. The latter is experimental. Called tegoprubart, it blocks CD154, a protein involved in immune system activation.