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.
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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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