By early 2024, VTCRC-based company Revivicor will begin raising genetically modified pigs in Montgomery County with the goal of harvesting hearts and kidneys for xenotransplantation into human patients.
Revivicor’s primary focus in clinical research is the development of critical replacements for human hearts, kidneys, and the thymus. As of August 2023, there were more than 103,500 patients on the national transplant waiting list, with seventeen people succumbing to their conditions each day while awaiting transplants, according to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
Pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Revivicor intends to produce transplant organs for institutions such as the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and New York University.
In January of 2022, Revivicor supplied the genetically modified pig heart that University of Maryland School of Medicine surgeons successfully transplanted into a 57-year-old terminal heart patient. The patient survived for approximately two months without displaying signs of organ rejection, although the circumstances of his death are still being explored.
United Therapeutics, Revivicor’s parent company, acquired the site where Revivicor will construct a $100 million, 69,000-square-foot designated pathogen-free facility in Montgomery’s Falling Branch Corporate Park. This facility will provide the ability to raise up to two hundred genetically modified pigs in a controlled environment.
Revivicor anticipates hiring twenty permanent employees in their first year of operation at the new facility, each with a minimum annual salary of $75,000. However, the impact of Revivicor’s presence is expected to extend beyond job creation. VTCRC President and CEO Brett Malone notes, “The breakthroughs they are having and the publicity they are getting are putting our region on the map. It’s motivating companies to want to be here”.
Montgomery County Director of Economic Development Brian Hamilton believes that Revivicor’s investment will attract more research activities to Montgomery County and Virginia Tech. Hamilton predicts that ” once Revivicor is delivering organs, I think it will be a lot more noticeable.”