A United States man has become the first person in the world to get a heart transplant from a genetically-modified pig.
David Bennett, 57, is doing well three days after the experimental seven-hour procedure in Baltimore, doctors say.
The transplant was considered the last hope of saving Mr Bennett’s life, though it is not yet clear what his long-term chances of survival are.
“It was either die or do this transplant,” Mr Bennett explained a day before the surgery.
“I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice,” he said.
Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center were granted a special dispensation by the US medical regulator to carry out the procedure, on the basis that Mr Bennett – who has terminal heart disease – would otherwise have died.
He had been deemed ineligible for a human transplant, a decision that is often taken by doctors when the patient is in very poor health.
The pig used in the transplant had been genetically modified to knock out several genes that would have led to the organ being rejected by Mr Bennett’s body, the AFP news agency reports.
For the medical team who carried out the transplant, it marks the culmination of years of research and could change lives around the world.
Surgeon Bartley Griffith said the surgery would bring the world “one step closer to solving the organ shortage crisis”. Currently 17 people die every day in the US waiting for a transplant, with more than 100,000 reportedly on the waiting list.
Dr Christine Lau, chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was in the operating theatre during the surgery.
“He’s at more of a risk because we require more immunosuppression, slightly different than we would normally do in a human-to-human transplant. How well the patient does from now is, you know, it’s never been done before so we really don’t know,” she told the BBC.
“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it.
“Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients,” she added.
The possibility of using animal organs for so-called xenotransplantation to meet the demand has long been considered, and using pig heart valves is already common.
In October 2021, surgeons in New York announced that they had successfully transplanted a pig’s kidney into a person. At the time, the operation was the most advanced experiment in the field so far.
However, the recipient on that occasion was brain dead with no hope of recovery.
This watershed moment provides hope of a solution to the chronic shortage of donor human organs. But there is still a long way to go to determine whether giving people animal organs is the way forward. Pig hearts are anatomically similar to human hearts but, understandably, not identical. It’s not ideal, compared to swapping in a human donor heart. But it is possible to plumb them in and get them working.
The bigger issue is organ rejection. These pigs are bred to lack genes that can cause rejection.
They are cloned with certain genes “knocked out” and reared until they reach an age where their organs are big enough to be harvested for transplantation.
It is too soon to know how Mr Bennett will fare with his pig heart. His doctors were clear that the surgery was a gamble. The risks are huge, but so are the potential gains.
Mr Bennett, however, is hoping his transplant will allow him to continue with his life. He was bedridden for six weeks leading up to the surgery, and attached to a machine which kept him alive after he was diagnosed with terminal heart disease.
“I look forward to getting out of bed after I recover,” he said last week.
On Monday, Mr Bennett was reported to be breathing on his own while being carefully monitored.
But exactly what will happen next is unclear.
Mr Griffith said they were proceeding cautiously and carefully monitoring Mr Bennett, while his son David Bennett Jr told the Associated Press that the family were “in the unknown at this point”.
But he added: “He realises the magnitude of what was done and he really realises the importance of it.”
“We’ve never done this in a human and I like to think that we, we have given him a better option than what continuing his therapy would have been,” Mr Griffith said. “But whether [he will live for] a day, week, month, year, I don’t know.”
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Musk’s Twitter Threatens to Sue Zuckerberg’s Meta Over Threads
The battle between Elon Musk’s Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta over the launch of Threads — Instagram’s Twitter rival — has taken a legal turn.
On Wednesday, Meta’s Instagram debuted Threads, a text-focused social app designed to piggyback off Instagram’s infrastructure and user base. The app had more than 30 million sign-ups as of Thursday morning, according to Zuckerberg, which would represent around 1.5% of Instagram’s monthly active users.
In a July 5 cease-and-desist letter addressed to Meta CEO Zuckerberg, a lawyer representing Twitter said that Musk’s company had “serious concerns” that Meta “has engaged in systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.” The letter said that “Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.”
“Over the past year, Meta has hired dozens of Twitter employees,” the letter says, alleging that “Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop, in a matter of months, Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal laws as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter.”
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone, asked for comment, referred to his post on Threads that said, “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing.”
Musk, in a tweet responding to news of Twitter’s legal threat to Meta, said, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
Twitter’s cease-and-desist letter also says that “Meta is expressly prohibited from engaging in any crawling or scraping of Twitter’s followers or follower data… Scraping any Twitter services is expressly prohibited for any reason without Twitter’s prior consent.” However, the letter does not allege that Meta engaged in such activity.
The letter from Twitter’s law firm to Meta was first reported by Semafor.
Musk acquired Twitter in a $44 billion deal in October 2022. Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, who started at the social media company last month after exiting NBCUniversal, on Thursday posted a tweet seemingly referring to Threads, in which she said in part, “We’re often imitated — but the Twitter community can never be duplicated.”
An email to Twitter’s PR account requesting info returned an autoreply with a poop emoji. Variety also reached out to Alex Spiro, a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, the law firm representing Twitter (officially renamed as X Corp.) but has not received a reply.
Hours After Launch, Over 10 Million Join Threads, Zuckerberg’s Rival To Musk’s Twitter
Facebook has tried to compete with Twitter in numerous ways over the years, including copying signature Twitter features such as hashtags and trending topics. But now Facebook’s parent company is taking perhaps its biggest swipe at Twitter yet.
Meta on Wednesday officially launched a new app called Threads, which is intended to offer a space for real-time conversations online, a function that has long been Twitter’s core selling point.
The app received 10 million sign-ups within seven hours of its launch, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on his verified Threads account.
The app appears to have many similarities to Twitter, from the layout to the product description. The listing, which first appeared earlier this week as a teaser, emphasizes its potential to build a following and connect with like-minded people.
“The vision for Threads is to create an option and friendly public space for conversation,” Zuckerberg said in a Threads post following the launch. “We hope to take what Instagram does best and create a new experience around text, ideas, and discussing what’s on your mind.”
He also responded to posts and shared his thoughts on whether Threads will ever be bigger than Twitter.
“It’ll take some time, but I think there should be a public conversations app with 1 billion+ people on it. Twitter has had the opportunity to do this but hasn’t nailed it,” Zuckerberg wrote on Threads. “Hopefully we will.”
The app’s listing describes it as a place where communities can come together to discuss everything from the topics they care about today to what’s trending.
“Whatever it is you’re interested in, you can follow and connect directly with your favorite creators and others who love the same things — or build a loyal following of your own to share your ideas, opinions and creativity with the world,” it reads.
Meta said messages posted to Threads will have a 500 character limit. The company said it was bringing the app to 100 countries via Apple’s iOS and Android.
After downloading the app, users are asked to link up their Instagram page, customize their profile and follow the same accounts they already follow on Instagram. The look is similar to Twitter with a familiar layout, text-based feed, the ability to repost and quote other Thread posts. But it also blends Instagram’s existing aesthetic and offers the ability to share posts from Threads directly to Instagram Stories. Verified Instagram accounts are also automatically verified on Threads. Thread accounts can also be listed as public or private.
The new app joins a growing list of Twitter rivals and could pose the biggest threat to Twitter of the bunch, given Meta’s vast resources and its massive audience.
It also comes amid heightened turmoil at Twitter, which experienced an outage over the weekend, followed by an announcement that the site had imposed temporary limits on how many tweets its users are able to read while using the app.
I’ve Hired New Twitter CEO – Elon Musk
Elon Musk said on Thursday he has found a new chief executive officer (CEO) for Twitter, but did not name the person, while the Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast (CMCSA.O) NBCUniversal executive Linda Yaccarino was in talks for the job.
Musk said in a tweet: “Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
Musk said he will transition to the role of chief technology officer of the social media platform within the next few weeks.
Musk, who took over as CEO of Twitter when he completed his $44 billion purchase of the company in October, said in December that he would step aside as CEO once he found “someone foolish enough to take the job.” He said that he would then run Twitter’s software and servers teams.
The WSJ cited people familiar with the situation in saying that Yaccarino was in talks for the top post.
Reuters reported after Musk’s tweet that Yaccarino could be his choice to lead Twitter, according to a Silicon Valley executive and a former Hollywood executive who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Yaccarino, the top advertising sales executive at NBCUniversal, interviewed Musk at an advertising conference in Miami last month.
At the conference, Yaccarino encouraged the audience to welcome Musk with applause and lauded his work ethic.
“Many of you in this room know me, and you know I pride myself on my work ethic,” she said, adding, “Buddy, I met my match.”
Yaccarino joined NBCU in 2011, after 15 years at Turner Entertainment and has been credited with dragging the network’s ad sales operation into the digital future.
As broadcast television audiences migrated to streaming, she took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall last year to tell advertisers that their brand messages were not an afterthought.
Yaccarino did not respond to calls seeking comment on Thursday.
When asked for comment, an NBCUniversal spokesperson said, “Linda is in back-to-back rehearsals for the Upfront,” referring to a presentation NBCUniversal will host for advertisers in New York on Monday.
Yaccarino’s exit would be another big blow to the company after Comcast said last month that NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was leaving after acknowledging an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the company, following a complaint that prompted an investigation.
Musk has previously not named any prospective candidates.
Speculation was rife on Thursday among tech and media insiders and on Blind, an anonymous messaging app for tech employees.
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and a top executive at Musk’s brain-chip startup Neuralink, Shivon Zilis, were among names that were being discussed.
Musk, who has come under fire from investors in his Tesla (TSLA.O) electric car company as being distracted by his attention to Twitter, said he will transition to the role of Twitter’s executive chair, along with the role of CTO, overseeing product, software and system operations.
Musk’s post about a new Twitter CEO came about 15 minutes before the close of Wall Street on Thursday, and Tesla shares closed 2% higher. The shares rose a further 1.6% in after-hours trade.
“The boat anchor called Twitter is loosened from Musk’s ankle. Now he can get back to spending more time creating value at Tesla,” said Craig Irwin, analyst at Roth MKM.
Musk has long said he intended to find a new leader for Twitter.
In a Twitter poll started by Musk in December, 57.5% users voted for him to step down as CEO of the social media platform.
The billionaire’s first two weeks as Twitter’s owner in October were marked by rapid change. He quickly fired Twitter’s previous CEO, Parag Agrawal, and other senior leaders, and then laid off half its staff in November.
Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” has said he took over Twitter to prevent the platform from becoming an echo chamber for hate and division.
He also said he would “defeat” spam bots on the platform, a key area of his tussle with Twitter’s board over his back and forth on the buyout of the company.
He said last month that Twitter was “roughly breaking even.”
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