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Man gets genetically-modified pig heart in world-first transplant

Doctors in the United States say they have carried out the world’s first transplant of a genetically modified pig heart into a man with terminal cardiac disease.

A team at the University of Maryland School of Medicine said on Monday that the 57-year-old patient is in stable condition after undergoing surgery last Friday.

The doctors say the man has life-threatening arrhythmia. They say he was deemed ineligible for a conventional heart transplant and had no other treatment options.

US man receives world's first pig heart transplant

A US-based regenerative medicine company provided the donor pig. Ten of its genes were altered to reduce the risk of rejection by the human recipient.

The unprecedented surgery was granted emergency authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration, under the “compassionate use” provision.

It applies when an experimental medical technique is the only option available for a patient with a life-threatening condition.

Efforts are underway around the world to develop gene-altered animal organs. Last year, New York University staged two transplants of genetically modified pig kidneys into brain-dead people for observation.

Researchers hope that, once the approach is confirmed safe and formally approved, animal-to-human transplants will be able to ease the shortage of available organs.

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