What We’re Reading: Unique Kidney Transplant Performed; OTC Hearing Aids Proposed; Fetal Sex, COVID-19 Response Linked

Surgeons attached the kidney of a genetically altered pig to the outside of a human body; an FDA proposal may help up to 37.5 million Americans with hearing loss; Women pregnant with girls have higher levels of COVID-19 antibodies.

Surgeons Successfully Attach Pig Kidney to Human Patient

Surgeons at NYU Langone Health successfully attached a kidney grown from a genetically engineered pig to a human patient and found that the organ worked normally, The New York Times reported. The transplant involved a patient who had lost brain function, and the procedure was only followed for 54 hours. Experts, however, called it a scientific breakthrough that may lead to a new supply of organs for severely ill patients. The kidney was attached outside the body to blood vessels in the upper leg outside of the abdomen and started creating urine and creatinine almost immediately. Robert Montgomery, MD, director of the NYU Langone Transplant Institute, who performed September surgery said the organ functioning outside the body is a strong indication it will also function inside the body.

FDA Proposes Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

The FDA has proposed a rule allowing people with mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase hearing aids without a prescription, the agency announced in a news release. The FDA said 37.5 million American adults have difficulty hearing, with the Hearing Loss Association of America adding that 1 in 5 teenagers experience hearing loss. According to the release, this rule would “facilitate innovation and increase competition” and will likely lower the cost of hearing aids. The proposal is currently up for 90 days of public comment, but there is no set timeline for when FDA-regulated OTC hearing aids may be available.

Fetal Sex Associated With Mother’s Response to COVID-19

Findings from studies show that women who are pregnant with girls have higher levels of COVID-19 antibodies than women carrying boys, STAT News reported. One of the studies examined the maternal blood, cord blood, and placentas of 38 pregnant women who had COVID-19, finding that placentas supporting male fetuses switched on more pro-inflammatory immune activation genes in response to the infection compared with placentas supporting female fetuses. These new data are also being used to answer the ongoing question of why COVID-19 affects male adults, children, and infants more than females.