Local meats meet local young scientists

Mrs. Cerretani’s 7th grade science class at Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington, MA recently used Walden’s pig hearts to learn about the inner workings of the heart.  This was a nice connection for Walden to make, as we are intent on utilizing the whole animal – and it also hopefully inspired some young minds!

Anatomically, the pig heart is very similar to the human heart – so much so that scientists recently reported implanting one in a baboon… after one year it is still properly functioning.  Scientists are tweaking the DNA of the pig heart to make it more compatible with primates and humans, hoping to unlock a solution to the shortage of healthy organ donors.

Artificial hearts have offered a solution to many patients waiting for a replacement heart, but these typically have issues with power supply, infection, and clotting, and other associated problems.  Valves from pig hearts are already widely used – and by modifying the DNA scientists hope to reduce the dangerous immune response to utilizing an entire replacement heart.  This is a very promising development for many folks suffering from heart disease and heart failure.

Maybe some of these young scientists will crack the code someday!