Pig hearts could soon be transplanted into humans with cardiovascular issues after a breakthrough study.
Scientists kept two baboons alive for more than six months after the hog heart op — three times longer than the previous best effort.
The monkeys were still healthy when the experiment ended and experts say the success of the research could lead to similar procedures on human patients.
In the study, published in the journal Nature, scientists genetically-modified the pig hearts to reduce the risk of an immune reaction. The baboons were also given drugs to prevent rejection and stop the donated organ growing too big.
Previous transplant experiments between species had lasted just 57 days. But one of the baboons studied by a University of Munich team led by surgeon Bruno Reichart was still going strong after 195.
Christopher McGregor, Professor of Cardiac Surgery at University College London, hailed the study as a “significant landmark.”
And Professor Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Researchers have spent decades trying to solve this heart shortage problem. Using pig hearts is one possibility, but there’s a long way to go and several safety hurdles to overcome.”
“This new research takes us a step closer to the use of pig hearts in humans.”
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