Pig-to-human tissue transplants nearing trials


Jeremy Laurance
The Independent

October 21, 2011

The world is on the cusp of a medical revolution which will see transplants of tissue from genetically engineered pigs to treat a range of human diseases, US scientists say today.

Click HERE to view graphic (103k jpg)

Human trials could begin within two to three years of tissue taken from specially bred pigs to help the millions of sufferers from diabetes, brain diseases and blindness.

But a British expert challenged their findings saying the safety issues were still “unresolved”. The fear is that a retrovirus could jump from pigs to humans and trigger a new pandemic – HIV is thought to have started from a cross-species infection.

In a review of xenotransplantation – using animal tissue and organs to replace human ones – experts from the Thomas Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh say the technology has made “great strides”.

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